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Tuesday, October 23, 2012
The Power of Words By Trevor Taylor
The light of hope, and the dream of a visionary…
The simple power of Words….
At a lunch the other day, a law student asked me if the choice of words one uses could have completely different outcomes. My inner compass spun and signposted me to two of the most inspiring speeches I have enjoyed reading. I turned to him and said “Oh, without doubt, Nehru and Martin Luther King – history’s wordsmiths” Later that day I went home and jotted down the reasons for my answer, so that I could discuss it with him at the next lunch…
……”The light has gone out and there is darkness everywhere”.
With these simple spoken English words, broadcast on Radio on 30th January 1948, an orator more at home in Hindi or Gujurati, Jawarharlal Nehru, brought a Nation of millions of Indians, the stark realisation that the beloved Leader Ghandi ‘was no more’. Ghandi’s assassination on that day marked an indelible moment in time barely a month into India’s Independence.
The striking feature of Nehru’s speech was that he avoided direct reference to assassination, sorrow, a gunshot, and sudden death, and used words of sweetness and exaltedness, because anything more direct and stark would not do justice to the unspeakable grief of the Indian people at that tragic time in their history.
In his speech he then turned those gentle words around on themselves, by continuing “Yet I was wrong, ….the light that has illuminated this country these many, many years, will illuminate this country for many more years, and a thousand years later this light will still be seen in this country”
I believe it is no coincidence that Nehru was following the teachings of the Indian scholar Kautila four hundred years before the Birth of Christ, that sweetness, and lucidity, coupled with connection, are the amongst the essences of effective communication.
Nehru used the principles proclaimed all those centuries ago, to awesome and immediate effect, transcending the negative and harsh emotions that we in the western world would in all likelihood have uttered at such tragic a time.