Winston Churchill once said, “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.” President Trump would agree.
“Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman!” – “Ain’t I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~1933 First Inaugural Address by Franklin D. Roosevelt
“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” ~”I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr.
“Ba Da Ba Ba Bah, I’m Lovin’ It!” – “I’m Lovin’ it” by Pharrell Williams, Tom Batoy, Andreas Forberger, and Franco Tortora
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They are carefully chosen and strategically placed. There is power and intensity invested in every word. Strung together, the individual words become a potent expression, one that breaks through the clutter of everyday advertisement slogans, motivational speeches, and addresses. These expressions evoke human emotions like nostalgia, humor, courage, confidence, anger, fear, distrust, and confusion
I believe that President Donald Trump’s recent press conference with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in Finland displays the rather destructive power of word choice we, as impulsive humans, often forget. According to the New York Times article, Trump and Putin’s Meeting, the Aftermath and More Political Stories This Week, during the news conference, Trump was addressing whether Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election:
“They [intelligence agencies] said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
He was supposed to say, “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.”
Havoc broke loose across the country because of one word. Because of one word, it seemed as if the U.S. President was against his own country’s intelligence agencies which had concluded that Russia in fact did meddle in the 2016 election. One missing word was powerful enough to make U.S. citizens question Trump’s credibility as the commander in chief; his miscalculated word choice gave citizens more reason to believe that Trump was choosing Russia and his personal affairs over the United States. The difference of one word was so striking that because of it, Trump solidified many bitter Democrats’ beliefs of his mercenary motives in Russia and even disappointed fellow Republicans, who condemned him as a coward unable to stand up to a tyrant like Putin.
Nonetheless, to me, in this situation, the devastating nature of words in Trump’s speech is jarring. As Putin himself said, the willingness of both the U.S. and Russia to cooperate is a huge, meaningful step in the right direction. Both countries expressed their mutual understanding of leaving the tense past of the Cold War behind and agreed that as massive nuclear powers, it is their moral obligation to lead and foster international peace. For two countries with a past as tumultuous as Russia and the United States’s, this consensus is monumental. However, because of Trump’s ignorant word choice, the entire summit was dubbed as an absolute disaster. Unfortunately, the conference has become nothing but a trademark of American embarrassment and a source of humor on late night talk shows.