A lot of learning in life often involves throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks. Some things come naturally to some, and in the same way, some makes others struggle. The early years of schooling is that gap in time where we’re able to find out exactly what our niche is, and while some people found the complexities of math to intrigue them, or the intricacies of science to compel their attention, for me there were words. They didn’t come easily, as I struggled with writing my letters in the correct direction, often making my intended Bs letter Ds, reading out loud, and comprehending simple texts. I can only remember the shame I felt of being one of the few first graders still on picture books while my peers ventured into chapter books. I’ve also had some issues with grammar, and I still do. Now and again I get the comment that I fail at being concise with my words, but I don’t think that I would be who I am if I wasn’t able to turn a simple one-word thought into a five-page essay. It’s just that once you finally understand words- how to read them, comprehend them, and articulate them appropriately, I can only say that it feels like the most incredible explosion of intellectual thought.
Before man struck fire or pioneered the industrial industry, he learned how to connect himself with others through a series of sounds and gestures. It was immature at best, but this primitive example stands as the first marker of communication amongst our species. Yet, as we evolved, so did this process, we’ve gone from grunts and cave drawings to email, text, letter, cellphone, zoom, and walkie-talkies to remain in contact with one another. The one thing that holds all these forms of communication together is words- the morphemes, phonemes, and every little semantic that allows for their existence. Yet, people still seem to underestimate their importance, and view things like newspapers and magazines as a dying industry, though I would argue differently.
Words have shown they possess the power to spark equal justice movements, lead an entire nation to war, and capture the attention of multiple generations. It was Martin Luther King Jr.’s notorious “I have a dream speech” pushed a good majority of the nation to challenge systemic oppression against Black Americans, it was Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address that gave struggling Americans a hope that the Union would be preserved in the wake of the Civil War evils, and it was Hitler’s copy of Mein Kampf and speeches of angry fervor that allowed for a vast majority of the European continent to be amassed by War. The Zimmerman telegram was an article that motivated the US to enter WWI, and it was Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech that paved the way for the US and Britain to fight back against the spread of communism. And was also C.S Lewis, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Lois Lowry, Roald Dahl, and Lemony Snicket were the ones who raised the sentiment of creativity in masses of children, teens, and adults alike through the powers of fantasy and mysticism. When people imply words are just words, they neglect their very history of being.
This is the way humans are built to survive. We have vocal cords for a reason- we need to feel and express these emotions and thoughts. To be alive is to have passion, fervor, and ambition- things that to express we need to have words. We know what it feels to be happy, we know what it feels to be sad, enamored, frustrated, lost, or lonely, and in each of those hours, we are inept to activate those feelings through writing, speech, conversation, argument song, and gestures. The foundations of our very nervous systems operate on the fact that when triggered, we can act upon our survival instincts and convey what we most strongly feel.
At their core, however, words will always remain the proverbial double-edged sword because for as much power as they have to build us up, jumpstart revolutions, spring initiatives, and challenge authority, they have just as much strength in their ability to break us down. The right words can shrink us, burn entire nations to the ground, end the lives of millions of people, and become a blinding force of hate. In so many aspects, the power of words has both given me the strength to become as resilient as I am today, but also as insecure and as frightened as I may forever remain to be. So yes, words may just be words, and books, letters, and emails are just a bunch of them scattered onto a blank background, but I’d like to think of them as something much more than that. They protect, nurture, create, and grow, but you see they also destroy and weaken. It is only when we can capture their beauty and power that we can begin to understand the entire complexity of the human experience.
I joined the Newspaper club in the fall of 2020. Before this, I found space for my words to exist on blank pages of my journals, and for as much security and pride as it gave me, I reached a point where I realized that by locking away their power into the confines of a personal book that will never be read I was robbing other people of their purpose. There is a vulnerability that comes with sharing your writing publicity, even if not that many people read it. It could be something as simple as a movie review, a hard news piece, or something more complex and divisive like an opinion article on a controversial topic. I used to be afraid to voice my opinion, in any aspect, but once you realize that expression through writing can change minds, open eyes, and inform people for the better, you come to understand the importance of publishing that stowed draft. I’m sure my thoughts may have upset people and angered others, I’m even willing to bet that some of their themes may have bored and confused just as many. At the same time, however, I would like to think that they’ve also intrigued people, pulled open the doors of their narrow perspectives to alter their opinions, and most importantly, made them think- WHY is this important? WHY should I care? What can I do?- As I sit here and write my final article for this paper, I am taking the time to reflect on what this small, but very influential, club has given me. I can say with ease that it has given me a sense of personal confidence in myself, and a sense of pride in my work that I was always afraid to have. It gives me an outlet for creativity, and a reservoir to practice my grammar skills on. Most importantly, it provided me with a sense of hope and the sentiment that if I am passionate enough, real enough, and raw enough in my stories, I can do great things. I can probably count on two hands how many times someone has told me journalism is a dying field, and that the money is not there, but this paper has convinced me otherwise and has further motivated me to never put down my pen just because of what others think.
I cannot thank Miss Irvine enough, for her constant encouragement, positive attitude, and unwavering support for everything each of her students writes. I believe she truly has a strong grasp on the importance of getting words out there and being bold with your work, which is something that I find she translates across all of her students. She is always able to find some good in any piece of writing she reads, which I have great admiration for. I would also like to thank Mr.Donnelly for his thoughtful, funny ideas, web design help, and incredibly kind feedback he leaves for all of us. Lastly, I would like to thank all of our wonderful readers who take the time to skim through the words our staff puts out there, you are proof that journalism is not a dying field and we all appreciate you (a special thanks to Ms.Summa, Mr.Leonardo, and Mrs.Kelley for always leaving such meaningful comments). At the end of the day, yes, they’re just words, but they’re also forces for change.