Actions trump words
January 16, 2018
As a public school teacher who specializes in literature and grammar, I was surprised at all the excitement during the weekend regarding President Donald Trump's comments about chain migration. I love to watch the swift and sanctimonious reactions from people all across the country who just can't believe someone in such an high office would offer up such an adjective for countries that are politely described as Third World, struggling, dependent, corrupt and in need of assistance.
I'm not excusing the particular noun (it was kind of used as an adjective though) that President Trump allegedly used to contrast the present immigration system with one that he thinks should be more merit based. I'm not even going to try and get inside the minds of a bunch of politicians sitting around a table discussing how to do something about our immigration policies. Words have a way of being sifted out to reveal something more important.
Let me explain:
A few years ago, words were used against me and a few of my colleagues that were meant to disparage the character and conduct of our professional abilities. It was reported that we were part of some plot to allow things like hazing and bullying to go on, and we lost our jobs because of the charges. In what was a most difficult period of my teaching and coaching career, I counted on two particular words to get me through the damaging episode: character and integrity.
Certain people in our community had an agenda driven by selfishness; others were used by people in positions of authority, and still others were exposed for their cowardly behavior. Some just decided to leave town.
Through it all, I learned a valuable lesson about people: You can say all the words you want to, but the one that always stands out above the nouns or adjectives are the verbs. Verbs are action words, and there are many people in our community whose bravery and courage through this period of time allowed the truth to surface and reputations to be restored.
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Yes, words are powerful, but the actions are, far and away, the most genuine way to determine the meaning of the words people say. President Trump may have said it — now let's see what he can do about it. Words might mean things, but actions reveal the true measure of a person. Our actions, in a world driven to a sanctimonious frenzy by words, will always be the test we are required to pass if we are to succeed in life.
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.