This week Joe Biden was inaugurated as US president. My prevailing thought throughout the inauguration was ‘words matter.’ Over the past four years, we have witnessed a president spew words of hatred, racism, and repeated falsehoods. We watched in horror as those words led to increased division, discontent, and turmoil.
Last Wednesday, the words spoken by the new president (and the words of many others that day) had a different tone, a refreshing tone.
Compassion. Respect. Integrity. Hope. Possibility.
For me, the highlight of the inauguration was youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and her recitation of her poem: The Hill We Climb. She concluded with this:
When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it If only we're brave enough to be it.
I’m not naive. I know that words themselves will not resolve the turmoil and unrest that exist in our world. But words do matter. Words set a tone and create a ripple effect. The words in our classrooms. Our homes. Our countries. Words spoken by our leaders. Our family members. Our students.
Yes, words can divide and dishearten, but they can also inspire and uplift. Undeniably, words matter.