The Power of Words

I believe in the power of words.

Because when we do not speak, when words are stuck in our throat with nowhere to go-  we choke.

It is in the choking silence that we are bound to endure, to suffer, to be oppressed. It is this silence that fuels the oppressors, the tyrants, the dictators, with the sense of supremacy to do as they please.

If we do not utter a word: they will utter them for us.

If we do not revolt: they will continue to attack.

If we do not speak: our tongues will eventually lose the ability to do so.

Therefore, I believe words must be chosen with great discretion and purpose. They must not spew from mouths like shards of glass, stab with the sharpness of knives, nor hurt like bullets to the head. But, if someone does spew, or stab, or intend to hurt, I believe in ensuring silence is not maintained. Regardless of whether or not I am affected, I believe in ceasing to be an apathetic, ignorant bystander. The power of the words I choose to speak, and the power of when a collective speaks these words together, is much more fervent than any violent injustices and atrocities committed.

Throughout school, I have been taught how to deal with bullies. There would be an annual assembly in elementary and junior high where we would learn tactics like “tell an adult,” or “stand up to the bully.” Never was I told to observe quietly if I saw someone being bullied: to ignore the situation or walk away from it. I was taught that acting weakly, as if I would not challenge what they were doing, would only serve as encouragement for the bully’s behaviour; it would only feed their appetite for authority. Always, I was encouraged to speak up, stand tall, and be strong.

I have no doubt everyone else was taught the same. So now, when bullies have risen to power as leaders of countries and as tormentors of the innocent, I believe it is more vital than ever for us to implement those lessons and not disregard the power our words have to stop ruthless, inhumane behaviour. If the victims remain quiet, that is due to forced compliance. If the world remains quiet, that is a form of voluntary compliance.

We must not be a part of this abusive cycle. We must be articulate and not stoop to the level of such bullies: act or bash them incessantly like they do to us– with no purpose or cause. But instead speak up, stand tall, and be strong. I believe we must make them see the grandeur that exists in unity, in freedom, and in love. The desire of all humans to possess these elements subsists in each of our heads, but our zeal for them can only be conveyed through words. I believe we must be eloquent and composed as we speak, we must be willing to listen, but also willing to reply with fierce words that penetrate minds and open eyes.

I believe that is the way to free those who have been shackled by racism, greed, brutality, or just blind inhumanity. Like the many Syrian men and women who attempt to run away from terror only to be told there is no room for them elsewhere.

I believe in the power of resolute words that can break chains and unlock compassion. Like Malala Yousafzai’s, who gained the solicitude and support of the world by her passionate account of her pure struggle to be educated.

The kind of words that can mend broken hearts and diminished spirits.

That can make a stranger feel like a friend.

That can make love blossom and hatred wither.

I believe power must be reinforced in the words of the people, not in those of inept leaders. We must continue to shout against tyrannical silence: march like we did in Washington to honour human dignity this January, or march like we did for jobs and freedom in 1963.

So that when there is someone in the world who cannot speak, who is not given such a powerful freedom, we can be their voice.

So that we can finally keep our promise of “never again.”


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6 thoughts on “The Power of Words

  1. Dear Ayisha,
    After reading your this I believe, I could tell it meant a lot to you. Throughout your writing you used explicit language, and really went into depth with all your sentences which shows how much it means to you. I loved the way you tied in “words” to bullying. Also I believed the image you decided on posting, really flowed with your writing, and added a lot of meaning to your writing.

    I don’t have a lot to say for you to work on because this piece was well done, the one thing I would say to make this writing, perfect is in some sentences you could have gone a little deeper in explanation. You would start out the sentence great but at some point won’t go in depth, which kind of left me in suspense. Overall everything was great, and that’s all I would say you could improve on.
    Overall your writing was really good, no doubt and itll be fun working with you this year

    1. Dear Mayowa,

      I am really glad you were able to pick up on how strongly I feel about the topic. My intent was to get that point across, and solidify it with the analogy to bullying, which you said I did. Thank you!
      Your suggestion of explaining things in more depth is something that now, looking back at my piece, is noticeable. I will definitely work towards addressing that in the future.


  2. Dear Ayisha,

    There are so many wonderful things about this piece, I don’t even know where to start. Wow. Honestly, wow. Not only was this blog insightful, but it was empowering. The key to greatness is withholding the power to inspire, and you have already achieved that at age 17. Ironic, isn’t it? You talking about the power of words by using powerful words. You are seriously incredible. In addition, your style was established effectively and beautifully. I loved the continued use of your colons, similes, and your tyrant-bully analogy–it truly is terrifying to think that bullies, which we have all learned to be intolerant of during our childhood, are ruling entire countries and impacting populations. You were able to put such terror into perspective by using a simple comparison that almost everyone is familiar with. And lastly, your line, “Like the many Syrian men and women who attempt to run away from terror only to be told there is no room for them elsewhere,” evokes so much sympathy and hurt. I physically had to stop reading when I came across that line, and let the truth of your example sink in.

    To improve, I would suggest adding a personal anecdote into this piece. Is there something specific to your life that led you to be so passionate about this topic? Your writing will be so much more powerful if your readers understand exactly why you believe what you do–it would add another level of depth to this post, as your readers are better able to relate.

    Reading this post was truly a privilege. Ayisha, I am so excited to see what you come up with for our next free assignment. I absolutely loved this piece.

    Lots of love,

    1. Dear Riya,

      Thank you so so so much for your exceptionally kind words. I am overjoyed that I was able to make you think, able to make you recognize a truth; that is entirely why I write, and why I believe in the power of words.
      When praised by a writer of your caliber, I know I have done something right.
      Your suggestion to improve was also, I believe, touched upon by Mayowa’s comment. Looking back, I see now where a personal anecdote could have helped establish a stronger personal connection in my writing.

      Ever grateful,

  3. Dear Ayisha,

    It’s truly amazing how powerful this piece was and I think it definitely demonstrate your passion about your beliefs. When I originally saw the post, I was certainly intimidated by its raw length but when I began reading it, the ideas flowed so well that I was halfway through before I even realized. I loved your subtle(but not so subtle) reference to events that we have seen in the news recently and how you were able to connect that to your personal example of school bullying assemblies. It was certainly a very insightful post and helped me create and challenge some of my own thoughts in regards to the matter. Your ability to write out your passion and thoughts in words in such beautiful manner certainly does make me envious.

    To improve, I would say that I feel like the piece loses some of its flow near the end especially in the line “I believe that is the way to free those who have been shackled by racism, greed, brutality, or just blind inhumanity. Like the many Syrian men and women who attempt to run away from terror only to be told there is no room for them elsewhere.” Between these two sentences, I feel like you kind of just jumped into an example and made the pacing a bit awkward especially since you cut off your thought there and moved on.

    Overall this post was very reflective of your beliefs in that both are very beautiful and well thought out. I look forward to more insightful pieces and inspirational writing and can’t wait for your next post.

    Regards, Vincent

    1. Dear Vincent,

      I am overjoyed to see you found my piece worth your time. Thank you for telling me you received insight, were challenged, and recognized the passion I was hoping to convey. Like I said to Riya, that is my aim every time I write– to have achieved it is an astounding feat.
      As for your recommendation, I definitely understand what you are trying to say. From now on, I will pay attention to the little details that can interrupt the flow of my writing.


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