Each month, when preparing the Editorial, I ask myself the following question: “What do I have to say today?”
I then answer myself with a huffy, “Nothing,” and immediately play a few rounds of Candy Crush Saga.
Because, let’s face it – “What do I have to say today?” is a daunting question, steeped in import and inevitably posed at exactly the same time as new pictures of the British prince appear on my Facebook feed.
Sure, I have an opinion on travesties like Syria, the Naval Yard shootings, and the government shut down. But my opinions are just that – opinions. It’s not as if, by simply talking about it, I will somehow prove the catalyst for peace in the Middle East. My words cannot revive the D.C. victims or force Democrats and Republicans to shake hands and play nice. And if my thoughts cannot possibly disarm the chemical weapons, why not spend my afternoon disarming the little bombs I can – the ones in various candy colors?
After all, what good is a stupid ol’ editorial anyway?
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed public outcry by placing an editorial in The New York Times. And while Facebook and Twitter blew up with criticisms and counterarguments, it was the significance of the act itself that most spoke to me.
Despite the much-publicized decline of print media, despite the fact that Putin has little say – if any – in the policy decisions of the United States, despite knowing that putting thoughts to paper would provoke a backlash unlike any he would deign to tolerate in his own country, Putin chose to pen the piece. And submit it.
Because words… are important.
As a privileged society, nestled cozily under the warm blanket known as Freedom of Speech, we tend to forget that much of the world remains forcibly silenced and cold. We can openly badmouth our leadership, but those same snarky comments made in the Express Line of our neighborhood supermarket would land us in the clink – or worse – in a place like Putin’s.
No man lives forever, but if he’s lucky, his words and his actions might. Whether we agree with his policies, Putin’s words – his argument for his stance – will live on in history. And while we cannot yet know the outcome of this Syrian crisis, those words (and the actions influenced by them) could help put an end to Syria’s bombs.
I try not to delude myself. I do not have the reach or the political clout of Putin. But I am blessed with the privilege and forum to exercise the power of words. And that’s why I write editorials. Because that privilege is sweeter than candy. And more powerful than explosives.
“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” – Pearl Strachan Hurd