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Can words change the world?
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 03/08/2010

Reading “Action speaks louder than words!”

This is a common phrase that more or less elevates the deed over the spoken word or written thought. However, while it is true that action is the end product of an idea, the idea process should not be discounted.

The words in and of themselves are neither good nor bad. The intention of author through words is not necessarily more powerful than the execution of the ideas by the reader. So while actions speak louder than words, those words are the persistent persuader, whispering into many receptive ears.

Recently, I thought about words and our vocation. I wondered how many words there are in print and cyber-print about corrections. As my brain tried to wrap around the many sources of corrections commentary, I realized the huge scope of it all.

Perhaps a better way to look at it is to go back to the original statement: “Action speaks louder than words!” What impact on corrections operations do words have? Do beneficial actions come from well-meaning words? Why do we write in the first place? Here are just a few reasons.

To solve problems – Sometimes we are too close to a challenge to adequately assess the landscape. Other professionals with a different perspective can apply their circumstances and offer advice hitherto not considered.

To congratulate and report – Occasional boosts of morale are crucial in what is, after all, a vocation seeped in negativity. News stories that commend the efforts of staff from all corners of corrections do this. They serve as inspiration in an otherwise less-than-rewarding occupation.

To ease tension – Often, writers take their frustrations out on concepts in order to relieve daily work pressures. Without such an outlet, many professionals would sooner burn out. Easing of anxiety allows one to return to other problems with a refreshed feeling.

To create action – Writing can serve as an impetus for action. Some would call it pot-stirring, while others term it a catalyst. Whatever the label, many movements yield practical results. But they are started with food for thought.

To communicate – Most of us have a need to grow professionally. And this can be done through interaction with colleagues from different agencies and in various geographical locations. As we spread thoughts, they are subject to comments. Such comments, supportive, neutral, and opposing, help us to form solid ideas on the topic at hand.

In corrections, all action, good and bad, might be diminished if not guided by the contemplation of inspired words. In other words, action is important, but the written word supplies an important catalyst.

On the face of it, this is about a writer who is writing about the many impacts of writing. This is like wrapping a notion in a concept and surrounding that with another concept. Beyond that, it behooves all of us to look at our professional literature in all of its incarnations and formats and to think of the many effects of those words.

Can words change the world? Naturally, not all ideas will move mountains. But some, with proper application of action, can change our corner of corrections. The corrections profession and all of its actions and policies would be much different without the many influences of the written word.

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