The story goes: when Barack Obama was in high school, a teacher asked him what is the most powerful thing in the world and he responded without hesitation, “Words.” Most of us learn them quickly from an early age and accumulate more and more of them and perhaps whole languages of them without really thinking about what they are and what they are supposed to do. And we get into arguments over them, we are named by some, we live by others, we are willing to die by others, we get married or divorced with others,
Language at its most basic is a sound representing something. Written language at its most basic is a picture representing something. Meaning is what words were intended to convey and more importantly reality or truth. The word tree represents trillions of individual things in the world that are not the word tree. But we never think about this and we get into countless arguments/wars over this very distinction between a word and what a word is intended to represent.
Words caress, torture, enlighten, maim, educate, clarify, terrify, confuse, and heal. In the end, it comes down to remembering over and over again that the purpose of words is to illuminate reality or, the truth out there beyond words that existed before words came to being and will be in the universe after words have died out. The people that remember that and find that tend to be happier. And the ones that have forgotten tend to be more unhappy, haunted by words of days gone by. For those that remember, our job is to help those that have forgotten remember to focus on the moon (reality), not the finger (the words) pointing at the moon.
by Word-1 Word-2.
Chang’e Flying to the Moon by Ren Shuai Ying
Photo of the moon Pixabay
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