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The Power of Words on Slaves

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The greatest degree of power conceivable is mentioned in the Bible (John 1:1, 14): “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Although this is an African concept of creation (see “Theology of Memphis”) thousands of years before the Bible. The Old Testament explains it as “God speaks and thus creates a reality” (Gen. 1:3, etc). The reality of life is the Word.

Thus, the Word is about action and knowledge (truth, understanding, and wisdom) which reduces chaos into order (Deut. 4:36;2 Tim. 3:16; Gen. 1). Order, knowledge, and being brought into existence in the image of God creates a spiritual individual.

Such an individual has possibilities, qualities, and powers similar to, but of course lesser than that of God. These messages, particularly the Biblical writings of John, were powerful words to African American slaves. After all, they were originally spoken by the Black African, Hermes Trismegistus (?4000 B.C.). So powerful were his words that the ancient Greeks, named him Trismegistus, meaning that he was three times greater than the greatest master.

Hermes said everything in the universe has its existence in God’s mind. Therefore humans live and move and have being in God’s mind. God is the cause of whatever is real and never the unreal because the unreal cannot come into existence.

Implied here is that man has all the potentialities of being: life, love, wisdom, substance (the material and spiritual essence out of which the human body is made), power, strength, and all of God’s other attributes -- grace, beauty, serenity, harmony. These are fundamental concepts to understanding how powerful the words are which we speak to others and to ourselves. Although “The Word” is to be distinguished from any human words -- even the words of the Bible -- human words have the power to create a reality, a distortion, or a fantasy, whether for good or for evil.

An example is what psychologist call the “Looking Glass Self,” perhaps inspired by Thackeray’s “Vanity Fair”. In essence it says that children receive the responses of others as to who they are and that positive self-concepts tend to develop if parents and significant others (persons whose views have great influence on an individual) react favorably to them in word and deed.

Otherwise, an on-going self-concept and self-esteem down-grading results from the child’s self-rejection beliefs. At the same time, children “color” rejection beliefs based on their sophistication in understanding how others see them. Next, they start reflecting their “coloring” -- like a mirror -- back to others and to the environment.

Whether proper and realistic or not, children see as real the “conclusion words” they create in their minds. In that world they make adjustments and accommodations to fit the picture of what they determine is expected of them. Thus, living up to a label is what is meant as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The same process of making real the unreal or distorting the real is likely to have occurred in those African slaves who gave in to being brain-washed. From Europeans’ deliberately implanting self-destructive “seed” words into the brain-washed -- words designed to cause an inferiority complex -- the effect was that slaves saw in the White man much of what they had lost in themselves. Such losses, without the possibilities of hope, led to self-destruction -- the self-application of evil words carrying the power of converting a self-concept into hateful thoughts, emotions, speaking, and behaviors.

A destroyed self-concept erodes the spirit, mind, and inner workings of the body. This erosion shows in bad behaviors -- as in aggression or as resistance to self-improvement work. Erosion also causes a vicious cycle of bad decision-making and problem-solving. These are factors which enslave minds and enslaved minds can cause damage to all concerned as their pattern passes from one generation to the next.

Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D

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