Today is the 4th of July. For many, it’s a day of relaxation, the enjoyment of good food, time spent with friends and family and watching in awe and amazement fireworks that leave us mesmerized and speechless. But as I reflect on this holiday I find myself thinking about the power of communication and that while this day, the 4th of July, is a day of celebration for our nation, when it was declared back in 1776, a host of people could not celebrate, could not enjoy themselves, and lived in fear … right here in our own backyards.

To help me explain to you what I mean let me share with you a couple of dates: 1619 is the first documented date of slavery.  Twenty individuals of African descent were transported to the colony of Jamestown where they lived the life of indigent servitude until their deaths. In 1776, America declared her independence and we were told that families in our newly formed states were granted the right to life, liberty and the right to pursue the happiness their hearts desired. Yet, slavery still existed.  This went on for another 87 years until 1863 when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery. But even after the signing, it took another two years for the 13th Amendment to be enacted, which abolished slavery in the United States (or did it … but that’s for another blog). 

The tie that binds this time in our history is communication.  Missed communication, uninformed communication, detrimental communication, the omission of communication.  Communication. When we don’t communicate or choose to omit information it can alter people’s lives. When we manipulate or misrepresent our communication it creates hurt, fear, and mistrust, not just with the person we are communicating with but among those around us. Imagine that if in 1776 the full breadth of the Declaration of Independence had been communicated, that all individuals, no matter their race, creed or color were granted inalienable rights. Imagine that if in 1863 the full breadth of the Emancipation Proclamation had been communicated. Unfortunately, the Emancipation Proclamation put parameters around communication that negatively impacted a race of people who are still reeling from its repercussions today, in 2019.

So, as we celebrate our nation’s birthday, I want us all to remember the power of communication and to make sure we’re communicating effectively and intentionally. Our words have the power and the ability to alter the course of history, either positively or negatively shaping future generations.

Use your words … remember 1619, 1776, 1863, 1865.  While they simply
look like numbers on a page, they are dates and the history behind them will
live with us all forever.