the power of words

The ancient Roman lawyer, writer, scholar and great orator, Cicero, once said this about the power of words…

“Nothing is so unbelievable that oratory cannot make it acceptable.”

Remember that quote, because when you read the stories below you’ll learn just how true that statement is. Have you ever thought about how powerful words are? They have the power to literally change the world.

Let me give you three quick, real-life examples to show you just how powerful they can be.

The Artist

He always wanted to be an artist, but his efforts to succeed in that arena always seemed to fall short. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts twice and was rejected both times. In World War I, he applied to serve in the German army and was accepted, even though he was still an Austrian citizen. His main job during the war was that of a messenger. His service in WWI ended in a gas attack that he somehow managed to survive.

No one who looked at this failed artist at this point in his life would ever imagine what kind of an impact he could have on the world. He was disillusioned that Germany had surrendered and later would join a group called the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP).

It was then that his artistic talent finally came in handy.

He designed their party banner, which had a swastika in a white circle on a red banner.

His name was Adolph Hitler.

Hitler soon gained notoriety for his powerful speeches among his fellow party members.

It was this same talent for giving powerful speeches, in person and via radio, which would catapult him to become the leader of Germany.

And the rest of his corrupt, evil story is – as they say – history.

The Journalist

He was an Italian journalist and novelist who was disillusioned with his government. He would’ve remained in obscurity except for one reason: he was a powerful communicator. He would later become the editor of the Socialist party newspaper, Avanti (meaning “Forward”), which gave him a platform to spread his ideas. The power of his words and his messages over the radio gave him an ever-growing influence over the people.

His name was Benito Mussolini and he also eventually became a powerful dictator.

And his horrible acts are now well-known as well.

These two psychotic dictators, who had tapped into this power of words, would eventually unite in their desire to dominate the world.

What would be the key to stopping them?

The power of words.

The Failed Government Official

He didn’t begin his life with any hint of military greatness. He took the exam for the British Royal Military College three times before he finally passed and was allowed entrance. While he was in the military, he wrote military reports for some British newspapers. Later he wrote two books on his experiences in the military. He went on to become a Member of Parliament in the Conservative Party for Oldham, a town in Manchester.

Not only that, but he was the first to achieve the title of First Lord of the Admiralty. Everything in his life seemed to be going great.

Then something tragic happened.

He wasn’t directly involved in the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli, but he still resigned his post. Why? Because he felt responsible for proposing the expedition that had taken so many British lives. 

His career seemed to be over. That is, until a twist of fate brought him back onto the scene. By the late 1930′s, Hitler and Mussolini had joined forces and Hitler was slowly taking over more and more of Europe. The British Prime Minister Chamberlain didn’t know what to do. WWI was still fresh on his country’s mind and he didn’t want to enter war again, so he tried to appease the Nazis.

By 1938, Winston Churchill – the man who had taken 3 attempts to enter British Royal Military College, the man who had resigned in shame after the Battle of Gallipoli – couldn’t take it anymore.

He began to use the power of words to publicly express his criticism of how Prime Minister Chamberlain’s was handling things. He repeatedly gave speeches warning his countrymen of the danger that the Nazis posed.

On May 10, King George VI appointed Churchill as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. And this was just in the nick of time.

Within hours, the German Army began to invade the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. Then, just days later, German forces entered France.

At this point, Britain stood alone against the Nazi onslaught.

On June 18, 1940, Churchill gave a powerful speech to the House of Commons, warning that “the Battle of Britain” was about to begin.

It was Churchill’s powerful words and speeches that kept resistance to Nazi dominance alive.

His willingness to speak up created the foundation for the eventual alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union.

And again the power of words changed history.

The power of this one man’s ideas had helped influence other countries to join in the war and stop Hitler.

The power that words have really is amazing.

As Cicero said, they really can make anything seem acceptable.

If you ever doubt this fact, then remember this failed artist, this unknown journalist, and this failed government official.

I just want to encourage you, that as you learn to harness their power, to make sure to use them for something that is worthy and right.

Photo by floeschie