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The Power of a Word

Updated on January 27, 2015

The power of a word is un-derestimated. A single word can evoke emotion, initiate thought, and, can inspire action. Sometimes, a single word will turn into a hub. The word that is the inspiration of this hub is the word “un”. Well, it’s probably not really a word but hearing it struck a chord in my soul.

The Inspiration

The political climate is important to me. I watch and listen to the various sources that bring me political news. I feel it is my obligation, to be informed, and, to be involved. I enjoy seeing the politicians in different environments and for that reason, I watched the CSPAN coverage of the Alfred E. Smith 2012 Foundation dinner. The dinner is held each election year and gives the two candidates who represent the Republican and Democratic parties in the Presidential Election a chance to poke a little fun at each other. It is a light atmosphere, attended by a true cross section of society. The Dinner is hosted by the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation, in honor of Alfred Emanual Smith, a four-time governor of New York who was also known as the “Patron of the Little People”” and, as “The Happy Warrior”.

Al Smith came from the streets of New York and made his way through hard work and integrity to the position of Governor of the city. He was a man un-afraid to stand up for what he thought was un-just for the least among us. Alfred Emanual Smith was a patriot and a true public servant. Some of his most notable statements are symbolic of his positive attitude and his simple philosophy.

Alfred Emanual Smith
Alfred Emanual Smith | Source

Notable Quotes by Alfred E. Smith

"Be simple in words, manners, and gestures. Amuse as well as instruct. If you can make a man laugh, you can make him think and make him like and believe you." - Alfred E. Smith

"It is the right of our people to organize to oppose any law and any part of the Constitution with which they are not in sympathy." - Alfred E. Smith

"The American people never carry an umbrella. They prepare to walk in eternal sunshine." - Alfred E. Smith

"All the ills of democracy can be cured by more democracy." Alfred E. Smith

"Un" - What are they?

The quotes of Alfred E. Smith bring us back to the power of a word. As the 2012 Alfred E. Smith Dinner came to a close, Referencing the life of Alfred E. Smith, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, made the following statement during his closing remarks at the 2012 Alfred E. Smith Dinner.

“All of us reverently remembering a man of deep Catholic faith and ringing patriotism who had a tear in his Irish eyes for what we would call the “uns”. The “uns” of the world - the un-employed, the un-insured, the un-wanted, the un-wed mother, the innocent fragile un-born baby in her womb, the un-documented, the un-housed, the un-healthy, the un-fed, the un-dereducated.

Government, Al Smith believed, should be on the side of these “uns”.

The word “uns” hit me like a ton of bricks and I knew I had to write about the “uns” of our world. Al Smith believed we had a social and moral responsibility to the “uns” of the world. That same philosophy has been the core of my existence for the whole of my adult life.

More about "uns"

Before you jump on the band wagon and tell me that people have to help themselves, I want to be clear. I do believe that people have to help themselves. However, sometimes life deals us a bad hand in spite of our best efforts. Catastrophic weather or illness can strip any one of us of our ability to help ourselves and it can happen in a fraction of a minute. And sometimes, no amount of “want to” is enough. Sometimes, we just need a warm heart or a helping hand to take that first step to recovery, wholeness, stability, or independence. And, we can't think or believe that it is solely the job of the government to fix.

As my thoughts delved further on the “uns” of this world, I did a dictionary search of words beginning with “un”. I was curious as to how many there were that Cardinal Dolan didn’t mention or that I hadn’t thought about. My search revealed 3,876 words beginning with “un”. I scanned the list and discovered the following were relative to Cardinal Dolan’s remark.

  • The un-accepted
  • The un-adoptable
  • The un-appreciated
  • The un-happy
  • The un-becoming
  • The un-communicative
  • The un-desirable
  • The un-free
  • The un-socialized
  • The un-skilled
  • The un-stable
  • The un-loved
  • The young-uns

To write about each one would bore you to tears so lets’ just look at the list in totality. The circumstances that place one under any one of these labels is varied and personal but aren’t they all worthy of being treated fairly without judging the circumstances? Are they not all worthy of the same human and Constitutional rights that all are promised? In my opinion, the answer is an -equivocal “yes”.

The thoughts of these “uns” remained with me throughout the night. My sleep was interrupted by the thoughts and I could not shake them. Consider me weird if you want, I’m okay with that but, I felt there was a reason that I was so moved by the concept of the “un”. I knew there was something for me to do, I just had to figure out what it was. It came to me during my second cup of coffee, as I sat looking at the list again.

The Challenge

My purpose here is to challenge you, the reader, to reach out to an “un” of this world. Let the power of words be your tool. My challenge is simple and will not cost you a dime. The “uns” of the world are everywhere. You will not have a difficult time finding them. They may be your neighbor, the clerk in your grocery store, a family member, or, the person sleeping on the street that you step over to get into the convenience store. I challenge you, even if you do nothing more than say hello or shake their hand. Take a few minutes to listen to what they have to say. It costs nothing to say hello and listen and it could be the most important thing you’ve ever done. Many of the “uns” of this world just need a reminder that they are still a part of the human race; to realize that they are not invisible and that they are loved. If you can do more, do it but my challenge is simply to have you reach out to an “un” in human kindness and compassion. Put power in words. Can you? Will you? I believe in you!

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

Thank You

I want to say a special thank you to my new friend Angela Blair here on HP who not appropriately called my attention to the term "young-uns" and its absence on the list. The young-uns are the future and our responsibility. Thanks Angela. You made a great point.


Submit a Comment

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    4 years ago from Central Virginia

    akader , thank you so much for the visit and comment. I totally agree with you. Perhaps this is what we should be teaching in elementary school since we've stopped teaching cursive writing. lol

  • akader profile image


    4 years ago from Algeria

    You are so right a single word can satrt or stop: war , love ,hope ,peace and so on. Unfortunately people can not give value to what they say; only those who love word can understand the world of word.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey Shauna! Thanks. You're right, we are our own worse enemies. Thanks for the thumbs up!

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 

    5 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, this hub is heartwarming and eye opening. Reaching out to the 'uns' of the world may be the first step to un-doing the damage we've done to ourselves, our pride and our earth! Thumbs up, my friend!

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Chad, you have just proven why I love hubpages. It's not the flowery comments left by people who really are just trying to broaden their circle. It's about real writers reaching out to those with the dream of writing and encouraging them. I am so touched by this message from you. I am stunned and awed by your admission; that you waited before leaving a comment. Wow! That speaks volumes on it's own. To have you return to leave a comment that also offers thoughtful observation as well as a resource for furthering my interest, well, I am very, very grateful. Thank you seems pretty inadequate so let me just say this - you are a real writer that I admire, respect, and will follow for as long as you have a presence here on HP.


  • Chad Thiele profile image

    Chad Thiele 

    5 years ago from Hudson, Wisconsin


    I read this post of few weeks ago, but I waited until now to comment.

    The power that words is an idea that I have thought a lot about lately. In fact, I wrote a few blog posts about the topic on my blog last spring. (

    I also plan to start posting about the idea on HubPages. (In fact, my next hub highlights the fact that one of the key reasons education is so important is because it gives us the tools needed to communicate.)

    If you haven’t done so already, I would also suggest reading “Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear” by Dr. Frank Luntz. I’m currently reading the book. I think that it would be a perfect book for you to read given your interest in the power of words. As an added bonus, as you might be aware, Dr. Frank Luntz is a political consultant, so the book talks a lot about another area that you are interested in.

    I enjoyed the hub and the other one that you recently posted about the power of words.



  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh mperrottet, thank you so much. This piece came from that "special" place where my best hubs come from. I'm so glad you appreciate it. And you're right, it could be any one of us at any time. Thanks so much for understanding and leaving such a heartfelt comment.

  • mperrottet profile image

    Margaret Perrottet 

    5 years ago from San Antonio, FL

    I think that it's so important for us to extend ourselves to those that are less fortunate, or simply in a bad place in their lives. It seems to me that at one point or another in our own lives, we have been or will be one of the "uns". This is a good reminder of how important it is to help and love one another. This is a beautiful piece of work - voted up and shared!

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Faith - no brilliance here, just an open heart. When I heard Cardinal Dolan use the phrase, it was like a dagger. I had to do something with it. So glad you found it meaningful. Thank you Faith. Your comments always warm my heart.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 

    5 years ago from southern USA

    Hi Linda,

    Don't know how I missed this one . . . the power of one hub no doubt, and this is the hub!!! Yes, the "uns" of this world. I always just thought in terms of the downtrodden and homeless, etc., but what a new concept, the "uns." Leave it up to your brilliant self to come up with such as this - you are so wise dear one. This is a profound piece here. When I choose a ministry to serve in, it is always in the area of the "uns." As that is where my heart is and where God has revealed to me to serve Him to glorify Him. I adore you too!

    Voted Way up of course!!! Excellent on so many levels.

    In His Love Always, Faith Reaper

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Pamela99. Thank you so much for your visit and insightful comment. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense but we get so busy sometimes that we just don't think. We are indeed blessed though.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    5 years ago from United States

    This is such a thoughtful hub. I have never actually considered the term, the "uns" of the world. You are so right. It takes very little effort to be a bit more considered or to do something kind where you have to go out of your way a bit. When we are so blessed in so many ways, giving something back should be the minimum thing we can do. Awesome hub.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh Angela, what a marvelous addition to the list of "uns" and I am ashamed of myself for not thinking of it in the original writing. It will certainly be added. I love that you brought it my attention. Also, I really aprpeciate your compliment too. This piece really is special to me. Thank you so much.

  • Angela Blair profile image

    Angela Blair 

    5 years ago from Central Texas

    Exceptional piece and marvelous writing -- in Texas, children are often called "young-un's" -- right there might be a good word to add to the list as the future of this country is going to be in their hands and heaven only knows what a big job that is! Best/Sis

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Rich - she's just this little ol' person who knows a little about a lot of things and not a lot about any of them. But, like so many others here on HP, I want to make a difference so I am trying to be a voice for the things I see that are wrong, and to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone to see things from a different perspective. I am a better person for having found HP and some incredibly gifted, great human beings that are now friends. Your comment is funny. Now you know what it's like to be me. I never know which one of me is going to show up in the morning. lol Queen? Hardly! I'm the new kid on the block trying to walk in the footsteps of some real heroes called "hubbers". You are special, my friend! Thank you for the chuckle this morning.

  • rcrumple profile image


    5 years ago from Kentucky

    Who is this woman called Linda? Political analyst? Philosopher? Commentator Extraordinaire? Ah, it's the one and only HP's queen! Seriously, another great read and insightful ideas. Great Job!

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi MH! Thank you! Never let what you have had in your life make you feel guilty. It's what you do with it that matters. You are a good person and your involvement in the organizations tells me you are doing your part. Thanks for the read and comment.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Daven! You have made my day. This piece, as it was written, became very important to me. I appreciate so much your compliment and efforts on behalf of this hub. Whether it makes hub of the day or not, at least by forwarding it, you have expanded it's audience and perhaps it will become even more effective. You have made me very happy.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello TigereyeRose! I didn't mean to make you cry. Many of us have been an "uns" and some of us may be again, or, for the first time. That's why the Cardinal's remark touched that place in me that said "what can I do?" The writers here on HP are som of the best people on the planet and they come from every walk in life. I knew if I proposed a challenge, this group would make a difference. Thank you so much for showing your vulnerability and strong spirit.

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 

    5 years ago from San Francisco

    Bravo! Very inspirational and what a doorway. We Masons teach that we all have limits., but very rare are those who even come close. You are right! But who am I to talk? I had an oil company, Freemasonry and a very supportive wife behind me.

  • davenmidtown profile image

    David Stillwell 

    5 years ago from Sacramento, California

    Lrc7815: I found this to be your best piece of writing yet. In fact, I loved it so much I am forwarding it to the powers that be to be considered for Hub of the Day.... no promises... dmt!

  • TigereyesRose profile image


    5 years ago

    I am in tears here...I often feel like one of the 'uns' myself sometimes. I always try to help people when I can, as people have helped me (pay it forward). I always have a kind word for people as I am out in public, that is just the way I am. You are right though, you never know what one word can do for a person, it can literally make their day. :) Great hub, I love it!

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, I have a great mentor. :-) And, some wonderful teachers here on HP. I am so inspired to do more, better. Thank you so much for all the encouragement you give me. You are creating a monster for social justice. Big hugs!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Oh man, this woman just keeps improving in her writing skills! Is there no limit to what Linda can accomplish with her words? I think not!

    You are just shining here on HubPages, and I'm proud to be your follower. This is a powerful message, delivered perfectly, with great pacing and .....well, you done yourself proud, lady!

    your devoted follower,


  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    shiningirisheyes - I am an "uns" too. I was laid off in April so the speech last night resonated deeply with me. I could not ignore it and hd to write about it. Thank you for understanding, for reading, and adding to the conversation. I wish you the best in whatever you need, whether it is a new job or a successful career writing. I know it's hard.

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 

    5 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Irc - This is just further evidence of the beautiful soul and energy you bestow upon our world.

    Having recently become one of the un fortunates and un employeed, I commend you for stipulating this current situation is not of our making.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks carol777. it's why we're all here, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the read and comment!

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 

    5 years ago from Arizona

    Words that is what all of us Hub writers are about. Really enjoyed reading this and it was certainly a creative idea.

  • dwachira profile image

    [ Danson Wachira ] 

    5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

    Hi Linda,

    You have become the voice of the "Uns" today, those without voice and words to propel them into the heights of society because they are just viewed as "uns". I do believe in you and so long as we stick into this and believe that words can do wonders, the society and world in whole will be a better place to live in. Voted up and useful.


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