Inner Michael » A Word about Words…

A Word about Words…

Coming soon...

Have you ever noticed the irony of words and symbols, of an oxymoron or acronym? Have you ever noticed how words “feel?” How words conjure pictures in your mind?

Words are powerful; words have punch. They can be soft or stark, soothing or startling. And sometimes they hold irony. “Iron curtain” has iron-y.  The phrase “behind the iron curtain” meant somewhere deep inside the Soviet Union and tucked away in the dark secrecy of Russia and communism. Is iron curtain an oxymoron?

Mad means “angry or indignant” but at one time MAD was an acronym for Mutually Assured Destruction.”

MAD. The irony is hard as iron, no—steel. “Mutually Assured Destruction.” It referred to the cold war and nuclear threat of the Kennedy through Reagan years when the U. S. and Russian missiles were pointed at each other from strategic locations to strategic locations. (Some still are.) It was a “policy” adopted by both countries. MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION. A policy was adopted that would ensure that the world would be completely destroyed. Because had any of those weapons been unleashed, the end of Earth was inevitable. A policy? Is that ironic? A policy is adopted by people for people to insure that when it’s over there will be no people. One does not survive a nuclear cloud or global radiation fallout. No ONE. Mutually assured destruction.

MAD? It is mad. Mad in the sense of “crazy” and “crazymaking.” Are we busy crazymaking? Is that ironic? Is the irony lost on you? The world is not filled with enough trauma, drama and suffering; now we want to make crazy too. That’s crazymaking.

“That’s so gay” has irony- gay used to be a derivative of gaiety which means “a state of merriment or joyful exuberance” but there is no delight now or anything to celebrate in the word “gay.” 

The other day I said to someone “Well, let’s take a stab at it.” Take a stab at it? What image does that conjure?  And when I talked about taking a stand on something, someone said to me “choose your battles; it depends what hill you want to die on.” Words and violence. And words making violent images. Do we watch how we speak? These days I am trying to remember to think a little more before I speak. And at the end of the day, before I go to sleep, I am reviewing my day for how I used words. Did I use them as weaponry?

What has become very important to me is to be my authentic self and to speak with an authentic voice. When I am not coming from my authentic self there is a dissonance in my energy and it doesn’t feel right. When I am busy and scheduled beyond sanity, I tend to get right to the point and I can be very direct. I don’t usually have hidden agenda in what I say and there is rarely an intention to harm so I don’t always stop to think what the other person is going to hear. When I am in that mode, it is just give me the facts and there is no sugar coating. I forget that some people need sugar coating.

I love poetry and I love lyrics. I have written both and I love the artsy way words and music can fit together to convey something in two languages at the same time. My favorite musical genre is the Blues. And James Brown was among my favorite musical artists. He did a lot for black music and to bring forward black culture. His iconic “I’m Black and I’m Proud” introduced the idea that being African American was not something to be ashamed of. That there was no reason to hide your brilliance because of your skin color (‘I’ve seen the bright get duller; I’m not going to spend my life being a color.’) James Brown with one song and a few chosen words gave a whole disenfranchised population reason to cherish their heritage. Talk about a few words changing the world. Lyrics are words. Talk about cultural memes!

And now black artists and black women and men are calling each other the N-word and “ho.” And even more dismaying is the fact that school aged children are using the term as an epithet to their peers. Can you imagine how horrified James Brown would be? It’s an insult to his memory, to race and to the progress we supposedly have made toward embracing diversity. Do you see irony there?

“Ebony and Ivory- “ Stevie Wonder; “Black or White-” Michael Jackson; “I Am Woman-“ Helen Reddy; “Imagine-“ John Lennon; “Times they Are a Changing-“ Bob Dylan; “All You Need is Love-“ The Beatles; “Tears In Heaven-“ Eric Clapton. And that is just a sample of words as musical memes that changed the world.

Do we use words as weapons? Do we hurt with words? Can words heal? How do we use words to heal? Can words harm? Can they kill? This is the “Age of Technology,” the “Age of Communication.” There is an explosion of words! Is there fallout? Do we use words for mutually assured destruction? How are we using words? How do words impact? Now there is a worldwide web. And we are all interconnected. What implications does that have for how we speak? What we say? How we say it? What kind of narrative are we establishing in this new world? Is it human? Is it humane? Do we use this new tool to celebrate humanity? Should we be thinking about that?

It’s now a global village out there. It’s a world of discovery and diversity. How are we approaching that new realization? How are we handling it? How are we describing our experience? What history are we creating? What legacy are we leaving? And it is all being recorded with words! Are we even thinking about that? Are we thinking about language and nuance and lasting impressions and what the collective narrative is for the twenty-first century? And what kind of world and narrative do we want to create? More MAD- mutually assured destruction? Are these important questions?

These are questions that are raised in a new program… coming soon to a world near you…

Stay right where you are and stay tuned. Your history, your future and your world and maybe even your life, may depend on it.


  1. gertrude said . . .

    I look forwared to Words and Violence program. As words injure, so they heal. When I listen to Michael Jackson sing Speechless I am stilled EVERY TIME, and I experience the present, the in-the-moment state of long ago when I knew how to listen, feel, sense, absorb, was unhampered by judgement and just enjoyed or did not enjoy. When there was nowhere to go. Words and sound bringing me back to that is a God send. I know I NEED the Words and Violence program because when I read this article, I feel calmed by the words chosen and their composition. Thank you Reverend B.

    Posted September 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  2. Kim said . . .

    Dear Barbara, thank you for being a champion for the Words and Violence program. It’s so very important that we (humanity) focus on the impact that words can have. Becoming aware of how words can affect us, I believe a first step to healing humanity. I too have been more conscious about the words that I choose. I try to be aware of what I say and the impact it could have on others. If my words are going to have an impact, then I will choose words that will have a positive and loving impact. I think that perhaps in some cases, people are just not aware of the impact of what they say. In some of these cases, there may be no malice intended. It’s about being conscious and aware. It’s programs like Words and Violence that give me hope. I know there are people who are working tirelessly to improve the lives of our children and humanity. This is one example. Thank you so very much.

    Posted September 5, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Permalink
  3. maria odette carrusc said . . .

    Rev Barbara. Ffor years i have been trying to find a gentler way of saying: “Killing two birds with one stone”. i find this phrase so violent. any suggestions or ideas ? Love your posts, as always and thank you for the positive words about Michael. [A “double whammy” comes to mind. It’s not as violent but still has that tone. Anybody have any ideas? ~Rev.B]

    Posted September 7, 2010 at 3:39 am | Permalink
  4. gertrude said . . .

    Rev. B: I replied with this to your email to me re: Inner Michael Shadow Work but I want to be sure my repy gets to you and it’s very important to me that I thank you for your email because it was “big” for me. You are obviously a very special being who fashioned herself into a communicator greatly beneficial to those of us who have had the good fortune to receive your work. You are a gift. I cannot TELL you how helpful this information is to me. I pray someday I can do something for you. Meanwhile I am sure God finds you SO KIND with your efforts to give us such beneficial food for our minds and hearts. You most certainly are a healer. Your WAY of expressing this knowledge seems to make it comprehended and digested by me when that has not been before. Its almost like you know exactly the right words to confirm things I have suspected are true but I have been punished for believing and have become a little afraid of. You have emboldened me to practice the inner work. I and countless others have been made to feel insane or accused of “magical thinking” for believing in magic. You have here confirmed that it is powerful magic that works by creating a world in our minds and holding fast to the vision. The vision of how we want to see things be, rather than being imprisoned by thinking the current state of affairs is something we have little power over. God Bless You. [Yes, Gertrude– shadow work can change the world. The curriculum for example, is shadow work- seeing what is and holding a vision of what could be. And a little Michael art, history and magic doesn’t hurt. Congratulations. ~Rev. B.]

    Posted September 8, 2010 at 12:35 am | Permalink
  5. gertrude said . . .

    OK here’s an idea for replacing the phrase “killing 2 birds with one stone.” What about feeding 2 cats from one bowl? As in: (example) “if I take the job in London, I can feed two cats from one bowl because I’ll be near the university where I’m upgrading my skills and also working at a gallery I love.”

    Posted September 9, 2010 at 2:09 am | Permalink
  6. Krista said . . .

    this is in response to Maria’s post re: killing 2 birds with one stone. I have worked in the non-profit world doing school ground greening and youth engagement/leadership for many years and we say, “plant two trees with one seed.”

    Posted September 9, 2010 at 4:32 am | Permalink
  7. maria odette said . . .

    Thank you so much you guys… Very cool suggestions! Another idea was given to me, pet related: Walk 2 dogs on one leash.
    BLessings to all. M

    Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

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