Thoughts on

On the Importance of Words

One of my favorite quotes to come from the Harry Potter movies (and there are many) occurs towards the end of  The Deathly Hallows Part Two when Dumbledore and Harry meet in a dreamy King’s Cross Station.  They are discussing a significant decision Harry has to make and Dumbledore says, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”  Pretty much every time I watch this scene, this statement strikes me as being so profound that it gives me chills.  Well, it is probably a combination of the words and Dumbledore’s fantastic voice that has such an effect on me.  But it hits home for me so completely because, to me, our words are terribly important.  We have all heard the sayings, “Sticks and stones…” and “Actions speak louder…” and I agree that there is some merit to both of those.  But they have never seemed wholly accurate to me because I am a person who believes in the power of words and the necessity of choosing them with care.  Most of the time, I make an effort to think through something before I say it aloud (or send it out to the interwebs).  I try to make sure that I am using the correct words to portray my thoughts and that I express myself in a way that is less likely to be interpreted as hurtful while still being honest.  But even I am not always as careful as I could be and end up saying things that I don’t mean or really even think at all.  And when I hear the words escape my mouth, I always think, “Why did I just say that?”


I have recently been noticing a trend that may just have been going on forever and has somehow managed to escape my attention until now.  But with the increase of internet usage over the last few years, there seems to be a corresponding increase in people’s ability or willingness to say cruel and hurtful things to each other.  Seemingly without remorse.  I can’t believe that all of these people are careless individuals.  In fact I know they aren’t because I know many of them (facebook friends particularly) that are actually quite lovely in real life.  So what is it that has made people feel like they can speak so thoughtlessly?  Why do so few seem to be paying attention to Dumbledore’s sage advice?

The point I think I am trying to make is that everyone says hurtful, untrue or thoughtless things occasionally because we are only human.  But I believe that every once in a while, there are things that we say that we can’t take back.  It almost feels like a footprint that we leave behind that can’t be brushed away and a representation of us, in a way, that will always remain stamped in the ground.  And that is why I believe in the importance of words.


  1. Colleen

    If only we all strived to be more like Dumbledore. Apparently strived is not a word because spellcheck underlining it in red but I am leaving it anyway.