There is no doubt that almost universally we have all heard the statement, “Our actions speak louder than our words.” It’s almost as if it is a given, a truth that cannot be debated. The supporting statementis , “What we do speaks so loudly that others can’t hear what we are saying.” Again, for the past many centuries, it would be hard to dispute this as something other than fact.
If we were to take a contrarian view in the world we live in today, I would suggest that maybe the enormity of words has finally usurped the actions of the people. What do I mean by this? In today’s world it is so much easier to hide behind our words when we can simply post, tweet, text or email, and although we may be challenged or trolled, we are not really held accountable. We can go on the attack, and then we can pretty much hide.
Standing up for our beliefs is an action, but it doesn’t have to be a violent or argumentative act. Instead, sometimes we find ourselves getting into a verbal arm-wrestling match through back-and-forth rhetoric that only fans the flame of discord. Even with all the information shared with families, through the news and through social media, we still have more verbal bullying taking place, written and spoken, that unfortunately can lead to tragic consequences.
What if we truly got back to where our actions really did our speaking? What if more of us stood up to the bullies where others find themselves defenseless or unable to? What if our actions spoke so loudly that the goodness in our hearts triumphed over the pervasive evil that seems to be growing in our communities? An evil that doesn’t have to exist. An evil driven by polarization of belief systems whether they be social, political or theological.
We are facing crisis and words coming at us from every angle. Yet instead of finding the solution by coming together, we become further separated because we would rather fight and fight dirty than listen and try to understand, working toward a solution. We have a border crisis, fentanyl crisis, inflation crisis, violent crime crisis, education crisis, police crisis, teacher crisis, nursing crisis, physician crisis, first responder crisis, recession crisis, energy crisis, society crisis, divisive crisis, faith crisis, employment crisis, and yet instead of us all stepping up to try and take action to bring us closer, the words we choose and socialize with only drive us further apart.
So, which is speaking louder today, our actions or our words? Those words we hide behind via texts, posts and emails? Those words we hide behind that deface public property? Or is it our action or inaction to do what is right, even in the face of conflict and adversity?
Look, I have family and friends who are on all sides of the spectrum around these problems. Some are on very extreme sides and others are centrists. And for me, I may even be accused of having my words speaking louder than my actions as I write this column each week. Yet, my action is actually writing this column with the intent of urging us all to find common ground and a middle that makes us better together. There will be no victory where one side completely convinces the other side that their way is right, this will never happen. However, we can get closer and simply agree to disagree more often. What can happen is that our actions of love, kindness, justice, mercy, gentleness, generosity, understanding, cooperation, unity and togetherness prove that we are still the United States of America, and that we stand better together than we do when we stand apart.
How about you? Are your words or actions speaking louder these days? Knowing that this column will absolutely rub some the wrong way, at least initially, my hope is that my intended actions and my words lead us all to a better place. I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when our actions and words speak so loudly that they call us all together, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.