Daily prompts, Life

The Meaning of Words

I recently found myself alone with 3 hours to spare between lectures. As soon as I arrived at the on-campus café in which I practically live, I happened to run into a friend and we sat down to chat while waiting for our respective lessons. Being on the line between friendly acquaintances and friends, the topics of our 3-hour conversation were mostly related to study and our year abroad plans, both professional and personal. We eventually found ourselves laughing at the fact that every topic seemed to end with the phrases “it’s/it’ll be fine” or “at some point”, both to unfavourable situations and aspiring plans.

Today’s daily prompt by the Daily Post is meaningless and I was inspired to think back to this meeting and other situations in which I or another expressed the type of phrase considered ‘wishful thinking’. I also think back on the actions that I may or may not have taken to achieve the status of ‘fine’ and accomplish what I set out to do.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not just the words themselves that have an impact, it’s the tone and intended or inferred meaning as well. I may say I’ll get round to reading the entire Harry Potter collection in French at some point on my year abroad, but it would probably be in a flippant tone. Someone may compliment your outfit, but it could be genuine or sarcastic, depending on the tone. The saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is completely untrue; the words themselves may be harmless in a playful situation, but with a malicious intention they can cut to the core of the recipient.

I think about the overuse of the word ‘sorry’ in today’s society and how it has become just as meaningful as any other word that I have written in this post. I think about the problems faced by those who actually mean it, but who fight to prove their apology, thanks to the majority in modern society who have rendered the word useless. I think about the ones who have heard sorry too many times, who have learnt to distrust the word, causing them to be insensitive to heartfelt apologies simply because of that one word.

Now, my problems and my aspirations for my year abroad are relatively minor when I think about the bigger picture. In 5, 10, 15 years, I will look back on my university days and won’t remember my complaints or their causes, won’t remember the book I plan to read or the music I plan to listen to on my travels, and certainly won’t remember the conversations I have documenting both complaints and aspirations. I will only remember the major things I do, the friendships I make and the places I travel to. Or, in all likelihood, I won’t remember any of my few years beyond the paper containing my completed degree and the diary entries that are few and far between.

Earlier, I read an article by the Independent on the protest march against Brexit days before Theresa May is said to trigger Article 50, as laid out in The Lisbon Treaty. Voters against Brexit, in London and Edinburgh, gathered to demonstrate their commitment to their desire to remain in the European Union. The article suggested that there was a larger turnout than what was expected, and photographs of the events showed a sea of blue and yellow. While protesters in London also had a minute of silence for the victims of the Westminster attack on Wednesday, the atmosphere during the march was one not unlike a carnival celebration, as today marks the 60th anniversary of the original European Union. The protest was both light-hearted and serious; protesters both celebrating their European links and fighting for what they believe in.

In some situations, like the case of my friend and I with our student problems and year abroad aspirations, it’s not going to be fine, a desire we have won’t be fulfilled at any point, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is for people to remain passive when they want something accomplished on a wider scale, when it’ll take a change in the mentality of a person or group for something to be done.

In the case of the Brexit protests today, in the case of the Women’s March across the USA and the world, in the case of historical protests such as the countless protests to fight for black civil rights in the USA, people took an active stand to fight for what they believed in, time and time again banding together to achieve a common goal. The black civil rights protests eventually led to the break down of de jure racial segregation laws, but there is still obvious de facto racial segregation as shared on social media. Changing mentalities will take many more generations, but individuals and groups continue to fight for the goal of equality every single day.

At the end of the day, words are often meaningless; actions truly do speak louder than words.

Izi Bella x


4 thoughts on “The Meaning of Words”

  1. Interesting point about the meaninglessness of words without action to follow. It seems to be true on the individual level where words are sometimes spoken in social settings to kind of keep things flowing smoothly but without a later follow-up, and on the global scale you mention.

    Liked by 1 person

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