Sunday, January 06, 2008

The power of words

by shamanic

I want to throw in a bit about Hillary Clinton's rather persuasive comment in the debate last night, that "Words are not action and as beautifully presented and as passionately felt as they are, they are not action. What we’ve got to do is translate talk into action, and feeling into reality."

I have written here before that America is a nation built on dreams that were communicated in the documents of our founding. The Declaration of Independence. The Bill of Rights. The Constitution. Even if you haven't read them in years, phrases from them and the spirit of them are liable to sing through your mind from time to time.

And then there are the insights of those who followed: Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, FDR's oratory on fear, the dreams of Martin Luther King, Kennedy's call to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, Reagan's shining city on a hill. These are words that captured and propelled binding sentiments about who we are as a nation, and that continue to inspire us, even in a changed world.

Words are not action, this is true enough, but Americans as a people are, perhaps uniquely, susceptible to the influence of inspiration. When inspired to greatness, we are makers of miracles. In America, it is never wise to dismiss the visionary and the words that communicate his or her vision. Words are the only thing that have ever really mattered in this country; they are the keystone of our nation, the well of our dream of ourselves from which all action and all greatness radiates.

When I look at what's happening on the campaign trail in this election, I see a people hungry for a new and better dream of America, one that transcends the bitterness of the post-Vietnam era and gives my generation and the one that is following, at last, a vision for being one people again. I can't say how or if that trumps experience. But I know in my gut that Barack Obama is singing a necessary song about America, and that without the right words today, the actions of tomorrow will continue to fail us.

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