For all the pleasures some of us receive from writing, I wonder how many of us experience the burden of responsibility that can go with it? When discussing this responsibility with others, they often say, “But I write only fiction,” or “I write mostly humor,” or “I write mostly non-fiction,” and a hundred other such replies. Yet, that is exactly the point.
When you have a readership in the dozens, it is one thing, but it is quite another when it is in the thousands. Or is it? Either way, you are influencing other people’s thoughts. Those of us who write should recognize the influence of our writing is a great privilege. We should never take this privilege lightly.
Whether we write or read, our thoughts are continually shaped and molded by what we allow in our minds. The mind is like a pliable lump of clay pressed, pushed, squeezed, and reshaped from all directions by everything that enters it. Does the realization of this not give you pause to stop and question what you are writing or reading and its effect on you and others?
Thinking about thoughts
At the end of the day, all we have is our thoughts. As a thinking being, our thoughts are with us at the beginning and will be there until we die (although some of us believe they will still be with us in heaven.) Thoughts are such a precious resource, yet how often do we think of them in this way?
Your thoughts, and my thoughts, are our very lives. As the father of American Psychology once said:
“You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are!” William James (1842-1910)
Yes, our life consists primarily of our thoughts. As a great American scholar and the father of transcendentalism once wrote:
“Life consists of what man is thinking about all day.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Whether you are a reader, a writer, or both, let’s think beyond this single source of input. There are many other influences besides the words we write and read.
What do you allow to enter your mind all day long? Every person we interact with influences our thoughts. What we watch or listen to on television, the internet, or the airwaves also affects our thoughts. Our minds are bombarded all day long from many directions.
Since this subject of what we allow in our minds affects every life on earth, it deserves more thought. While writing and reading may seem like a small part of life, it is still consequential, and we should think more about the impact we are making on the thoughts of others in the world through our words.
Considering the importance of thought, it would seem all of us would give the subject of thought more thought. Instead, we too often take our thoughts and their influences for granted.
As a famous French writer and journalist once noted:
“Thought is the first faculty of man; to express it is one of his first desires; to spread it, his dearest privilege.” Guillaume Thomas François Raynal (1713-1796)
Yes, We start this life and end it with thought, and the expression of it is certainly a dear privilege in our lives. Never forget the words of the wisest man ever to live nearly 3000 years ago, and how they apply in our lives today:
“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NCV Solomon (990-931 BC)
Stop and consider the influence you wield through your writing now and then. It could change what and how you write, which could be good for you, and the world.