Enlightened Conflict

words are chameleons

May 6th, 2015


——-words inspire and destroy

“Words are chameleons, which reflect the color of their environment.”


Learned Hand


“Words …

They’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they’re no good any more … I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are.

They deserve respect.

If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”


Tom Stoppard






words remember

I cannot tell everyone how often I am reminded that how you say something is possibly more important than what you say <at minimum I would suggest it is a symbiotic relationship in which the life of ‘what you say’ is in the hands of how you say it>.



That thought alone should make us respect words. They hold life, and death, of thoughts in their hands.



What makes words tricky is that words are not always a true reflection of the speaker’s thoughts … they enter into the ether and … well … are chameleons.


They often take on the hues of the environment.






This makes choosing words even more difficult.


More difficult in that a word can mean several things at exactly the same time … what it means in your head, what it means as it leaves your lips, what it means as it floats thru the environment <slowly, or quickly, changing as it is bombarded with contextual environment> and what it means as it is heard.



That, my friends, defines the challenge of stimulus – response. If any of those moments in which the word floats thru is not aligned … then incomprehension, or chaos, reigns.





This happens with every word and every combination of words.



This is a multi-dimensional constantly in flux contextual challenge.



Words are chameleons.


Last thought on these chameleons.


invisible presence

And while we would like to envision those bright colorful chameleons you see on National Geographic channel … more often words begin to blend in together and become almost unseeable & unrecognizable.




They fall like snow blanketing thoughts covering the landscape of fresh thinking … muffling inspiration and allowing unique features and anything interesting to become unrecognizable.



Here is what I know about words.



Empty words are evil.



“And empty words are evil.”

<The Odyssey>



If your chameleon words blend in to the environment so much so they become invisible … they have become empty.



You may have uttered them full of something … even a lot of something <passion, thought, insight, whatever> but as they wove their way through the environment they slowly got emptied of everything they were once full of … and as good chameleons do … they blend in and become invisible.



It would be easy to suggest they have then become harmless.


But if you think about it … they have not become harmless … they have become empty … an evil.



Evil in that they have not prompted any thought, any idea … any new passion. They are evil in that they have not inspired anything new … and everything old, or that which exists now, remains unchanged.



That’s what evil does … it fights change and thrives on inertia.


words know what to say




I imagine my real point is that words without their corners knocked off, or ground down, and used well … can be good words … and used for good. They need to be shaped, protected and guided through the environment instead of being flippantly flung out assuming a basic stimulus – response world.

Enlightened Conflict