Writing to Change the World by Pipher

This weekend I was nudged to pull an older book from my shelf. Don’t you love purusing your own library?  I started rereading the thought-provoking book by Mary Pipher, “Writing to Change the World. When I read it in late 2008,  it seemed like a lofty subject matter, way out of my reach at the time.  Change the world? Really… the world?

Today, I deeply resonate with the desire to contribute as I can to change the world for the better, no matter how small my contribution may be. Each day offers that opportunity. Each day I meditate and I pray. I ask to be shown where I can be of service through guiding me to see the need wherever I can help it and meet people and the need where they are.

When you change yourself, you change the world. If your intention is also to make the world a better place through speaking or writing, then you will find Pipher’s personal thoughts and observations, elaboration on writer’s formats and techniques to use and, many references and quotes from such inspirational people as Thich Nhat Hanh as motivating as I have.  Pipher’s book’s tagline reads, “An inspiring guide for transforming the world with words.”

What called me to share  today is taken from pages 202 and 203 in the chapter Speeches.  Pipher writes, “The largest component of presence may be tone of voice. In America today, the shrill, the bombastic, the hysterical, and the sensational often are the voices that are heard.  While I write this, I think with dismay about the mean-spirited talk radio shock jocks. They seem to be effective at gaining an audience, but they don’t make our world a better place. Their derision and ridicule degrade the culture for us all. (my emphasis) This kind of speech is the opposite of what I advocate. Hate speech objectifies, dehumanizes, and leads to bad behavior, including hurting the dehumanized without guilt.  It is antithetical to I-thou speech, which leads to civil discourse, and is the social cement necessary to preserve this house called America.”

Pipher continues, “All of us are more likely to be influenced by speakers we find sympathetic… Authenticity is the key. My best advice is to love your audiences. Be present with them. Form a small community in the time you have together. If you love them as neighbors and family members, they will know it, and they will allow you into their hearts. Then you can create moments for them in which transformation is possible.”

Mary Pipher, PhD’s book was published in 2006. Dr. Pipher is interested in how American culture affects the mental health of its people. She is a therapist, trained in anthropology and psychology. This is her seventh book; here it is through Amazon: Writing to Change the World.

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