Whatever you might think of his policies, John F. Kennedy was the original “hope and change” man, bringing a fresh look and feel to the presidential “brand.” He had youth, “vigah” and a way with words that truly influenced how we—and others—saw the promise of America.
In an interview with Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News, historian David McCullough suggested that among JFK’s biggest contributions was the notion that “words matter.” Like FDR and Lincoln before him, he understood the “power of a good speech” to inspire a nation to be better, do better and go further.
In the mean, crabbed world that Washington has become, this is now a quaint notion. We are urged to “think small” but not in the way DDB and Volkswagen intended. We are told government is not capable of or empowered to bring about big initiatives. And that austerity should guide not only our economy but also our vision.
Whoever said “words can never hurt me” was wrong. From the loaded “n” word to “death panels,” words can diminish, kill and create echo chambers that willfully perpetuate lies and misinformation.
As professional storytellers, we know all too well how much words matter. Whatever we do, let’s use them for the greater good–in our work and in our lives.