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The power of spoken words

Antoinette Connell

The power of spoken words

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Sorry is as powerful a word as any you will find in any language.
But is its potency enough to mitigate some of the devastating effects of the offensive words or actions that preceded it?
I’ve covered court cases in which a bit of self-restraint on either side could have prevented tragedy. Three seconds and the outcome could have been totally different.
I’ve also covered cases in which sorry could not undo the irreversible damage of a life gone, a reputation destroyed or a relationship doomed.
There were two incidents occurring two weeks ago in the heart of our capital that made me feel sorry in one instance and, in the other, anticipate an apology.
One I make just passing reference to as I believe it was simply an unfortunate occurrence that should have evoked sympathy rather than spur a visual feast on the social networks. I refer to the naked woman’s walk through Bridgetown.
For most of us, nakedness speaks to a vulnerability and we feel embarrassed at the very thought that it could ever happen to us. Couldn’t we not feel the same for that woman and spare her the further trauma of an unforgiving Internet record by not hitting that send button?
On the other hand, I believe it was just a matter of time before the ugly behaviour of some of our leaders was unmasked. Having heard Parliament described as poor-rakey by one of its longest serving members, I could only assume then that it was teetering on the brink of an episode like the one that took place recently.
The august chamber was deserving of an apology following that ugly remark, even if the member was not addressing the House of Assembly at the time. Fact is that it went out over the airwaves and while the chair may say it did not hear, members of the public can’t say the same thing.
There is a level of restraint expected of leaders that is not applied to the average person. Not that I am a prude, but there is a time or place for everything.
It would be unreasonable for me to go to a rum shop and complain of customers or humbugs cursing. However, you wouldn’t expect that in certain other settings.
That is why the behaviour of grown people who, for years, have been decrying John Public for a declining lack of morals came as an absolute outrage to the sensibilities of Barbadians.
Call it a manufacturer’s flaw but when humans interact with humans, we sometimes cannot escape confrontation. In such scenarios egos and pride take over and the intent is to win the argument at all costs. That is when we utter something that we live to regret, cringing each time the memory is recalled.
That is why it is so important to choose our words carefully and temper our reaction to situations.
We need to remember Wentworth Dillon’s quote: “But words once spoke can never be recall’d”.
• Antoinette Connell is the DAILY?NATION?Editor. Email [email protected]