Whitney White-Ashley

About two years ago, I discovered the childhood mantra “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was completely fallible when my then four-year-old son said he hated me.

He was my first child and we had always been very close. I was a stay at home mother at the time and so he was often the only other human being I could talk to. I often teased him that he would be the only preschooler who knew Shakespeare and Thoreau and could correctly conjugate verbs in the perfect tense.

As a lover of words, I was already aware of their power, but I had no idea until that very moment, when those words escaped his mouth, exactly how powerful words really can be.

And the power of words is precisely what we must measure on a daily basis, in our personal and public lives. Words can make or break a marriage; a judge can end a life or give a second chance - and it all starts with a word.

Every day I am reminded of the importance of cautious wordsmithery when I walk into a governmental meeting. Here, words not only affect individuals, but neighborhoods, cities, counties, states and nations. Within the confines of mortar and brick, lives hang in the balance of words.

I have been blessed in my short time in Glen Rose to see the beneficial power of words in action.

And on March 16, Texas Watchdog honored one of our own as part of National Sunshine Week.

A blogger who goes by the handle “salon” was named as a citizen journalist. (I’ll continue to refer to her as salon, although you and I probably know exactly who she is.)

Salon runs a busy little blogging site at salon.glenrose.net. When she first started up the site, she thought it would be a grand idea to post audio and video from open public meetings. She admits in the article that she met some initial resistance, but she pushed forward. Now, citizens that miss a meeting can catch up at home.

I would like to add my applause to her kudos, and not because our town is crawling with slimy backroom politicians, but because I think people stop caring about what’s going on when they don’t know what’s going on.

A rather non-scientific study done by Yahoo! News showed towns that lost their newspapers turned out fewer voters at election time and saw fewer candidates on the ballot.

In an increasingly technological world, we must take our words with us - be it on a computer screen or iPhone, magazine or newspaper.

Our words and our ability to use them are what separate us from those who merely survive. We must choose our words carefully, or we will lose their gifts entirely.

(The complete article on salon can be found at www.texaswatchdog.org.)