The recent debate has centered upon Barack Obama as an inspiring speaker. Hillary Clinton has responded that she offers solutions, not “just words.” John McCain has picked up the same refrain.
Obama responded with a speech (of course): “Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” Obama said. “‘I have a dream.’ Just words? ‘We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.’ Just words? ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words? Just speeches?”
Then Clinton accused Obama of plagiarism because he had echoed similar words of his friend, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. (I must confess that Hillary really had me squirming here. I very much identify with that preacher who said that the first time he quotes someone he names the author. The second time he uses the quotation, he says, “As someone once said…” The third time he uses the line, he says, “As I have always said…”)
I want to affirm a couple of things. The first is that I want to affirm the importance of words. Powerful oratory, whether it be spoken by Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Franklin D Roosevelt, Winston Churchhill or Adolf Hitler can move millions and can change history.
Secondly, I want to acknowledge that we need and want more than words. The Word of God, itself, seems to acknowledge that even God’s words are not enough. The Word of God had to become flesh. (John 1:14)
Words are most powerful when they are not just spoken, but lived. Saint Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach always, and when necessary use words.”
May God be with us all in the differing ways we give witness to His Truth and Glory.
©2008 C. David Hess