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  • Bob Ginsberg


During my adolescence, in between trading baseball cards and dodging cars as we played multiple sports on our street, I engaged in a secret project. I was fascinated by the power of words. They have no weight or mass, and they cannot be measured in a laboratory. They are not things. And yet, they have the power to start wars, promote bigotry and hatred, foster love, encourage compassion, and shape one’s wants and desires. Words and language are merely expressions of thought but are mystical in their reach. In my spare time I would keep a journal, not only of short stories, but of advertising slogans. I would take notice of products that we used, or that I saw on TV, and create my own headlines designed to make people want to buy that product. The thought of being able to influence others through the power of words was interesting and exciting, and in this case might have practical use when I hit the job market. Of course, as is the case with so many of our plans, this dream never materialized as my life went off in different directions, but the inner fire never went out.

It was only a couple of years ago that I watched the series Mad Men, and I was enthralled. That could have been me had my life forked in a different direction. My journals, along with my baseball card collection were long gone, discarded by my mother in one of her clear-out projects, but my fascination with words never left. I became an observer of human nature, and quickly realized that people seldom use language to express what they really think. Most of what we say is conditioned bullshit, as we simply regurgitate what we think people will want to hear, or what we have been conditioned by a myriad of influences to believe. It is an affront to the sanctity of language.

Of course, I now realize that making people want to buy a product through words is just another way of manipulation and misuse of words. If I buy this beauty product, I will look better and be more attractive to others and feel better about myself. If I eat this product, I will be healthier and live longer. If I buy this car, or these shoes, or this toy, I will be envied by others. We are constantly being persuaded to become something that we are not, masking who we really are, as if we should be ashamed of our true self. There is something inherently wrong this reality.

If we can begin to embrace ourselves for what we are and inspire others through our own true language and experience, we can break the pattern of ego dominance and accept each other for who we are, without judgment. We might consider putting more emphasis on feeling with our hearts as opposed to rationalizing with our brains.

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