Inner Michael » The Power of Images, Words and Voice

The Power of Images, Words and Voice

There is power in words and power in images and power in voices. We know words can kill. And have.

 “Yes, Words can Kill” Poem- Rev. Kaufmann

We know that images have been used to provoke action.

Images bypass the intellectual part of our brain and they speak more directly and louder than words can. Words require translation and comprehension and understanding. Images need no such translation nor an intermediary. They speak without speaking. They speak without words. All artists have a world view and many display their world view in their art. The old masters sometimes sought to influence their cultures through their paintings. They often depicted immoral acts in order to foster social change.

Following in the tradition of the masters are many modern photographers who use capturing images to evoke and provoke—and again many times to influence minds and hearts and to lobby silently for social change. There are many iconic photographs that have captured seminal moments in the evolution of a culture.

Images can be conscripted for good and to move the race forward, or they can be used as propaganda to move the race toward devolution. The intent of the artist is in the work itself as well as a glimpse of their world view. Sometimes codes and symbols are imbedded in a work of art or something is stark and shocking because of its placement or juxtaposition.

Images are yes, powerful beyond words but when used effectively, words can also evoke and provoke especially in the hands of a provocateur. Words, like paintings and other forms of art can be used for inspiration or degradation.

The current cultural and political climate is one of charged words—and we have seen how those words hurled at individuals can harm. There is speculation now that politically charged words, rhetoric and symbols contributed to a climate that allowed the death of several teens who committed suicide. The youth get it. They know what caused the death of peers. Many have organized their own campaigns against school harassment.

Now it’s the adults’ turn. The recent shootings in Arizona and the rhetoric and violent images are the responsibility of adults. President and Mrs. Obama are on board—what about the rest of us?

Bullying is epidemic. The recent fiasco of the Discovery Channel was but one example. That image was so offensive and the backlash so pervasive that the Michael Jackson autopsy may never see the light of day. We can only hope. The idea made me nauseous. Just the image by itself made me shiver. To know that image was once an idea in someone’s mind is scary. It did have social value, though. It demonstrated that there is a line of human dignity that should not be crossed. And your words and voices spoke to that image saying very clearly “This is not where we want to go.” And by saying that with one voice, you changed the perception of Michael Jackson fans and you changed the world.

Thank you.

My inaugural piece at the Huffington Post addresses the Discovery Channel, Michael Jackson, and how our world culture is permeated with bullying. Some of its forms may surprise you.

If you decide to go there and read the article here is what I ask of you:

* Read some of the other comments before posting yours.
* Be respectful, and thoughtful
* Do not use “fan” names [ ]
* Do not write love letters to Michael—Michael is not at the Huffington Post nor hovering in the air above it.
* Write about more bullying issues that just Michael. If enough thoughtful people clamor for media civility, they just might begin to pay attention. 
* Words matter, voices matter. Yours matter.
* If you are a fan, remember you represent Michael- change the label “crazy MJ fans” by representing him well. Thank you.

I want to thank you all for demonstrating to me that unity is possible, that there’s hope for humanity and that it’s not time to get on the spaceship yet. You know who you are.


  1. Dalia said . . .

    We live a crisis of values generally. I feel that humanity is heading into a vortex where the result should be a radical change of mind. I mean, there is so much pain that I think we are bottoming out.We understand how important it is that the media aware of the impact they have on society and the world; this is difficult when financial interests are imposed but not impossible to stop. Raising your voice works as we realized. I work with my children and I can be sure that they will not be bullies and victims in schools. But both teens stalkers and victims of harassment are the result of the documented inattention, indifference, lack of communication between parents and their children. It is a problem of our time and very disturbing to think what we can do individually to stop this. I had read your article yesterday and I loved it. Worthy of sharing with many people as are all your posts.

    Posted January 15, 2011 at 4:30 am | Permalink
  2. gertrude said . . .

    Reverend B. I was sent your article and have already posted a comment. I would really strongly urge everyone to go to this splendid work; it really deserves the clicks and the comments The more we hold these things in our minds, the more they are poured into the collective unconcious and we can’t let up for long. Witness the email I received yesterday about the lastest assault on Michael– a horrific story about Michael supposedly authorizing an illegal use of anesthesia on one of his children. Sub-text of story? MJ so drug addled he did not protect his children. Long term sub-text: MJ is evil therefore the ending of life by Dr Murray does not merit legal sanction. At the same time stories are now appearing promoting Dr Murray as an needed asset to his patients in Texas. The Defense is clearly gearing up PR before the trial. It has been suggested that the child’s privacy rights under US federal HIPAA laws have been violated by the story.

    Posted January 15, 2011 at 4:42 am | Permalink
  3. malcy said . . .

    Thank you for your precise and well written article.

    Posted January 15, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  4. Kimberly Bonk said . . .

    Rev. Barbara. I have read your article on Huffington Post and also feel that it is worth sharing with many people. I often sit and wonder how we arrived at this place. I think back when I was a little girl and think that things were much simpler back then; however, I retracted that thought immediately. The only difference between then and now is that we are a 24/7 society. Bullying took place back then and has been in existence for a long time as so described in your article. Also, perhaps my head was in the sand for so long as well. I knew it existed, but I didn’t hear so much about it really. Nonetheless, I saw it. I’m confused because in some respects, I see children who are aware of these type of things that are happening and they are working to change it. I also I see other children who are the cause of the problem; they are the bullies. I see this in adults as well. Why is that people act in such a way? My focus turns to the parents as well as other external influences. We do have the ability to make choices though. I think that the choices we make are influenced by what exists in our society at that time. I was a child of the 70’s and 80’s, so my influences are different that perhaps yours or others who come here. I know that what I’m saying is obvious; however, we have choices on how we treat people. I have been a victim of bullying when I was younger. I had the option to react in one of two different ways; either react with anger and bitterness towards others or I could understand that this type of treatment is not acceptable. I chose the later. It was my mother who instilled that value in me. Regardless of the things that my family went through while growing up, the one thing that I am truly grateful for are the values that I hold dear to my heart. One of them is to treat people with respect; regardless on how badly I’m treated. Of course I will stand up for myself, but that is another conversation. So I think it’s important for people to remember that while we are influenced by what goes on in our society, we have choices and it’s up to us to make the ones that will lead to a more human and peaceful existence. Thank you for such a thought-provoking article.

    Posted January 17, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

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