The power of words is a topic that is cross-generational, cross-cultural and cross discipline. Research on the power of words, whether from a developmental, psychological, neurological, anthropological, philosophical or theological perspective, all comes up with the same results; words have an effect. There are studies done on the effects spoken words have on water molecules.
Myth: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
Fact: Words do hurt. Words do damage.
This past Sunday, this fact was proven in a court of law. Documentary filmmaker and author, Simcha Jacobovici, spent 4 years proving just that; verbal and written words communicated by someone about another can cause damage to that individual. “[F]ree speech ends where libel begins”, writes Jacobovici; and the court confirmed this statement. With the freedom to speak comes the responsibility of that act.
In his 38 page ruling the judge “quoted Israeli law stating that freedom of speech has to be balanced with protecting a man’s “good name”.
I hope I have used my freedom to speak in a responsible way as I have blogged, written articles, lectured, trained or even in my discussions with friends over a cup of coffee. Because of this sense of responsibility, I have often kept silent in regards to my brother’s work. I am Simcha Jacobovici’s sister. We have shared many causes over the years and believe in similar viewpoints. But since my words can potentially be interpreted as biased because of our relationship, I have erred on the side of caution and not contributed to the free debate and exchange of ideas expressed about his work. The reason I am breaking that silence now is because there is no subjective bias when it comes to the objective truth of the power of words.
All the strength to you Simcha for not only making one individual take responsibility for the damage caused by his words, but also for setting a precedence that will make it less comfortable for others in the future to be loose with the way they use their words.
Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” – Yehuda Berg