I am awed by the power of words and how, when properly utilized, a minimal number of words can convey great ideas and have lasting effects. Gifted speakers and writers often use a select few words to maximum effect. As evidenced by the length of this article, I am not one so gifted.
Words reflect ideas, and when ideas are confused the words themselves become confused. When truth, freedom and decency are lost, convoluted thinking and contradictory words result.
“I’ve got two daughters. … I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” Barack Obama
“We hold these truths to be self evident,” the Declaration of Independence begins. The reaction in Congress today would likely be one of confusion: “A declaration is proposed regarding ideas that are purported to be self-evident truths. These statements are considered by others to be false, and they appear to be very inflammatory, sexist and culturally divisive. What is the definition of truth? Shouldn’t truth be decided upon by an equal number of people from all backgrounds and from different sexual orientations? How can we insert some pork into this?”
Today the Declaration of Independence, at only 1,322 words, would never see the light of day. Neither would the Constitution, with only 8,112 words, including all of the amendments. The very foundation upon which this country stands can be printed on only seven pages. Despite its few faults, it remains the best directive of earthly governance that has ever been written. These great documents are too short, too simple and too true for politicians of today, containing nothing that advances personal agenda over country. They are too simple for nefarious legislation to be hidden between their lines and too elegant to be easily misrepresented. Therefore, any convolution of their meaning must be lengthy and confusing. In short, the documents themselves are self-evident truths.
“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises.” Fourteen words in the Constitution, and from these few words the U.S. tax code has attained 16,845 pages and over 16 million words! How very far from the simplicity and clarity of the Founding Fathers we have come.
Barack Obama said: “I cannot swallow whole the view of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator.” President Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the dead, to consecrate a cemetery and to inspire our country to continue on in its valiant struggle. A mere 278 beautiful words written on the back of an envelope, it is widely considered the most inspirational speech ever given. Following a two-hour diatribe from the keynote speaker, Lincoln delivered his consecration in only two minutes. Yet today, few people remember who the main speaker was or what he said. Almost everyone knows what Lincoln said. Great words need not be lengthy, but great words must be great.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These 16 beautiful words from the First Amendment were written to prevent a state religion and also to ensure the freedom of religion. They say nothing prohibiting a prayer at school or Christmas decorations at City Hall. Nonetheless, small-minded people with convoluted ideas have tried to distort these few words with tens of thousands of words. Yet, because of their simplicity and clarity, these few words are stronger than all of the words that have been used against them. Truth is simple and the power of truth lies in its simplicity. Tyranny requires complexity in its justification and its execution.
A now well-known political figure ran a campaign promising change. His success was largely due to his skill as an orator, his use of words. He used many words to assuage his detractors, claiming that capitalism and the church were in no danger from him and he was no threat to those who had worked hard and succeeded. He was fortunate to be conducting his campaign during a severe economic downturn. The stock market had fallen, banks had failed, businesses were closing, and unemployment was increasing.
As we know, this politician was elected to the highest office in the land. His programs promoted redistribution of income, government control of large industries, nationalization of trusts and banks, and the suppression of religious conscience. He derided the people he felt were in control of the monetary system and complained that negative elements in society were trying to hold back the progress that he was going to ensure with his new programs. From the beginning he supported abortion and euthanasia – for certain groups of people. This politician’s name, of course, was Adolf Hitler. Yes, words are very important.
Consider the quotations below:
“Genuine equality between the sexes can only be realized in the process of the social(ist) transformation of society as a whole.”
“Women’s empowerment is always, always about more than bettering the lives of individual women. It is part of a movement.”
The first is by Chairman Mao, the second is by Hillary Clinton. Yet, they are of similar form and speak from similar ideology.
“Issues are never simple. One thing I’m proud of is that very rarely will you hear me simplify the issues.” Barack Obama
The chairman of the Peoples’ Party would have you believe that the complex issues before us require lengthy legislation and government management. In fact, the opposite is true. The solutions to problems that were themselves caused by convoluted thinking and government complexity can be found in simple ideas that can be read and understood by almost everyone. We will never find resolution in legislation so cumbersome it is left unread even by those who pass it into law, nor by using many confusing words to hide truths that really are self-evident.
“The short words are the best and the old words the best of all.” Winston Churchill
Frank S. Rosenbloom, M.D., is board-certified in internal medicine and practices general internal and hospital medicine in Portland, Ore. He is president of Oregon Right to Life and recently finished writing a book: “Mis-Managed Care.” Rosenbloom blogs at summacontraprobus.blogspot.com.