Stolen Words

winterflags.jpgThere is a great theft going on, one that steals our power, our medicine and our ability to hold our seat when necessary. Words are being stolen right out from under us.  What happens then is we find we are going right when we thought we were going left. We find ourselves believing without reservation that North is up and South is down. We find ourselves being scared of someone because they are a Christian or a Muslim. We find we shouldn’t feel entitled or hungry. And that selfish is always bad and love is always good. (Many, many nasty acts have been done in the name of love.)

War is patriotic but peace is unpatriotic. 

We need to claim these stolen words back and do so bravely and relentlessly. In our writing and in our speech we must use and speak out forbidden and stolen words, reframing them when necessary. “I am a monger of peace.”

Find the root meaning of words. Know the original intentions of a word.

Listen to what you are agreeing to when someone tells you something.  “I did it out of love.” “This is what a patriot does.”

 Listen for assumptions in someone’s speech and help reframe words and watch the world transform around you. This transformation is much like the restoring of a prairie to a more natural and honest state. We don’t let one plant horde the soil and light; we don’t let a word’s stolen meaning reek havoc on our intentions. We are not robots to other’s meaning of words. (We are the Meaning Maker.)

 Break the pattern of agreeing to a stolen meaning of a word or phrase and allow for a diversity of meaning to beautify a prairie and a conversation. Speak up. 

Shake up the conversation. 

Consider every word we carry as sacred and itself a container of a potent elixir or poison. You carry this word around with you affecting your psychophysical body as well as when spoken you impact the world around you. You release the elixir or poison from the bottle. When a word is stolen and we haven’t claimed it back then the vibration and meaning of the stolen word is the one carried in our psyches as well as the one heard and felt by others.

 “The penthouse is always on the top floor because the higher up you are the better. The better view is from on top.”

 “Dark is dangerous and bad.” 

“You bring me down.”

“This is ugly.”  What makes something ugly? And I wonder, where does this word originate? If something is considered ugly, is it considered bad?

 “Many of us know the northern countries are ‘on top’ and it is always better to be on top.”

“She’s ugly.”  “She’s beautiful.”

“I am patriotic.”

“Let’s be friends.”

“He’s a Pagan.”

Stolen words hold many assumptions and agreements and often hidden lies. When we numbly agree to stolen words our creative expression is halted. Stolen too. If top is always better than bottom where does that leave the snake, the inhabitant of the first floor apartment, or the earthworm? If hot is always red? . . . The day was blue-hot. A hot so uncontaminated it purified and released the long-ago deceased. It was time for everyone to go home. The dead knew their way and fell into the blue of sky, the blue of heat. Even the dead seek the warmth.

I hear people often say, “I think,” when what they are often trying to say is, “I know.” “I think,” communicates a wavering, an invitation for a robbery. “I think I want to try that,” sounds quite a bit different than, “I know I want to try that.”

“I think so.”

“I know so.”

  When you only think you know then others can easily step in and hold a conviction in your place. Predators enter where we waiver. Resistance arises where we hesitate.

Maybe the volume of stolen words is just too great to tackle. Just too premeditated to wrestle. Just too much to even consider. But let me remind you, words and the use of words make up both our inner and outer world. Words and the stories they weave are the world. What better past time to have but shouting out on the page or at the gathering, “I don’t agree”!  “I don’t agree!”

“I don’t agree!”

“Hey, I don’t agree!”

Here are several stolen words, can you add to the list? —




















to be fair



I know 

















“If love is the answer, could you please rephrase the question?”  Written by Jane Wagner for Lily Tomlin.

Write about what you were taught love is. How was love used (or misused) in your family, religious institution, or community?  Is love, “never having to say you’re sorry?” Is love, “This hurts me more than it hurts you?” “She loved him so much she had to do what she did.” What does it mean to love god?  What is god’s love? What does love mean to you now? Whom do you love and how? Choose a better word to represent this affection for others. Sometimes we reclaim a word by finding another one to takes it’s place.

 “Fire has a love for itself­–

It wants to keep burning.”   Hafiz,  Sufi Master and Poet

 Write a piece repeating the sentence:  “This is what I know . . .” Remember not to stop to think instead repeat the above sentence until the muse begins to flow. Fill up one page without stopping your pen.

Reclaim the above stolen words for yourself. Write a story or a letter to someone using several of the stolen words, claiming them back in the process. 

Identify and write about several other stolen words. What makes them stolen? Win them back by writing about them.

Write about an enemy using the following words: reluctant, inside, fearless, grasping, mirror, revelation.

What makes up a family for you?

You are fourteen years old. You just slept over at your best friends house. The next morning you are sitting in her room watching a show where someone reveals they are gay and your friend says, “What do you think about being gay?” Finish this conversation. 

Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself

In dark woods, the right road lost.                  Dante’s Inferno

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