The Power of the Written Word

Author: Martin Paredes

I always thought that El Paso’s lack of progress was based on low-wages and a lack of education. Unfortunately the latter proved to be true in the sense that El Paso lacks a firm understanding of the written word. The last year has taught me that the real reason El Paso refuses to move forward is the pervasive local attitude of; “it’s my way or the highway”.

Differing opinion is attacked upon and open discussion is vilified and neutralized.

El Paso’s attitude of blaming all of the local problems on Juárez or the recent County Commissioner’s gaff regarding the Arena is an excellent example of this. The community’s insistence of labeling everyone as either a Democrat or Republican, pigeon holds the community’s ability to think. Whatever happened to middle-ground thought? Why can’t anyone find solace in the thought that to move forward the community must think and contribute? Discussion is the way to understanding; why not embrace it instead of attacking it?

Why not meet halfway and listen to all viewpoints? Dallas, Houston and most large cities have small local presses and media development companies with the stated purpose of challenging thought through the publication of agenda-driven, yes agenda-driven propaganda, yet in El Paso, any publication is attacked for daring to publish a different point of view. Pick up any national newspaper, magazine or small publication in any city and you will find that it is masked agenda cloaked in the mantle of so-called “news” reporting. Any publication, either large or small carries with it the culture that drives it through to print each and every day. Most small publications are not moneymakers and even the large ones struggle to remain in print day in and day out. So what keeps them going?, the thought that the message is getting out.

The only difference between El Paso and the rest of the cities is that in other cities, people pickup publications in order to learn from the viewpoint of another individual. They might read something that totally offends them or they might learn something they didn’t know and share it with others. Either way, their lives are further enriched with the knowledge they have acquired by reading the written word.

Whole revolutions have been started and people have given their lives in order to protect the power of the word. The word is a powerful tool that can be used to further promote goodwill among people, or it can be used to create havoc and destruction. Families are created and destroyed by the word. Whole governments are held accountable by the power of the word. The word allows us to exchange ideas, thoughts and knowledge and allows us to share emotion with our loved ones. Our existence is based on what the written word tells us happened ages ago. We share the power to destroy with the written word, yet the word can also save us from that same destruction. No other weapon is as destructive and as inexpensive as the power of the written word.

As such, the word must be wielded with restraint and understanding. The only thing that neutralizes the destructive power of the word is accepting the fact that discussion is the road to understanding. By opening dialog instead of attacking, a community can and will bridge the gap that separates them. As the bridge is laid, the power of the word allows the community to accept their differences and reach the understanding that differences exist to make us stronger and more knowledgeable. So next time you pickup a publication, learn from the differences and embrace the similarities because the community can only benefit from this.