red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen

 

 

Words Can Heal

the campaign to eliminate verbal violence

 

Whether we want to admit it or not, words can and do have tremendous power. Gossip, threats, and teasing are just a few of the negative ways that words can be used to intimidate and cause emotional harm. Using negative words may even escalate a situation into physical violence. Bullying, many kinds of physical injury, and, ultimately, war all start with negative words.

On the other hand, positive words help us create community, build relationships, and heal ourselves and others. As our world becomes smaller and smaller through the use of technologies to share information and communication, we have an opportunity to recognize the impact of our words and to choose them carefully and consciously.

WordsCanHeal.org, the project of business, political, and entertainment leaders, is a "national media and education campaign designed to to promote the value and practice of ethical speech in order to improve our democracy and build mutual respect, honor and integrity." Notables involved range from former and current Senators Bob Dole, Joe Biden, John McCain, Harry Reid, John Kerry, and Sam Brownback; former and current Congresspeople Eva Clayton, Charles Rangel, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Dennis Hastert; CEOs from AOLTimeWarner Ventures, Charles Schwab, Hasbro, Microsoft, Nextel, National Semiconductor, and ZDNet; to Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, Pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell of the Windsor Viilage United Methodist Church, Hugh B. Price of the National Urban League, Rev. Virgilio Elizondo of the Mexican American Cultural Center, Imam Izak-El M. Pasha, and Rev. Robert H. Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral. Entertainers and communicators include Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup... book series, Florence Henderson, Goldie Hawn, Noah Wyle of ER, N. Scott Momaday, Edward James Olmos, Fran Drescher, Rene Russo, Tom Cruise, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, and Quincy Jones.

At the website, you'll find links to a "Words Can Heal" pledge, a free e-newsletter, a handbook that can be purchased (some sections are available for free on-line), a video, ways to "tell a friend" about the campaign, and more information about the project itself. A pop-up window offers a "Words Can Heal Character Education Program" designed for use in schools, after-school programs, and youth organizations that can be brought to your area.


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