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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.


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