Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Man Built of Words or of Actions?

"'Here, what do you think of this proposition?  Men are built of words.  Wouldn't you say that's true?'  At this he leaned forward and slapped my knee heartily, as if we were a pair of thrown-togethers at the beginning of a long train ride, discovering our common love of bookish pursuit. 'Men are defined by the words they use, and I have always said so!'
...Bitterly I said, 'Men are defined by their actions, Mr. Siringo.  Yours define a bully and liar.  I'll have no more discussions with you than I would with any thug you care to name.'"

With whom do you agree - Charlie Siringo or the narrator?  Are we defined more by our words or by our actions?

Image: Deep Springs Cattle Drive by Plowboylifestyle via Wikimedia Commons.  Image is in the public domain.


  1. This is odd. Yesterday, I finally filled in that spot on my Facebook profile that says a few words about yourself. Here is what I put and will tell you what I think.

    Writer, artist, single mom. Words describe us and our world. Words are powerful. We make the best of the words we are.

  2. You know my feelings on words! Our words are absolutely critical to our own self-worth, how we present ourselves in the "world," and how we interact with others. Words are our most powerful motivators - and weapons.

    Yet actions speak as loudly. Those who promise and do not fulfill their commitments, those who dream but never attempt, those who repeat words of kindness but act in indifference or worse - they show us the language of actions.

    We live by both. We are measured by both.

  3. Actions speak louder than words, but a person of character acts in the manner in which he speaks for he is not deceitful. Just my opinion. I like the way you make me think each day!

  4. Actions define us. Words explain us.

    Or...our actions prove our essence, our words espouse how we hope to be perceived.

    In any event, I'm a lover of words because I feel my actions are almost always inadequate to the task of explaining my heart.

  5. I love what Queen said, "Actions define us. Words explain us."

    But I am of the group who feels actions edge out words, ultimately. "Walking the talk" is always more difficult and almost always more rewarding. The "Do as I say, not as I do" principle illustrates this perfectly.

    But do you see how many catch phrases we have to defend and explore our actions? There is no denying words ARE powerful.

  6. Words are crucial, but they're easy to say. Actions are hard. I think we're defined by both, but I think actions are a truer barometer of one's self.

  7. Queen put it so eloquently!!!!

    I'm big on both, but if I'm torn/confused, I give bigger priority to actions.

  8. Great question. I think most people would say "actions", because after all...they speak louder than words, right? BUT...I'm a sucker for words. Genuine words. Beautiful words. I frankly LOVE words. Perhaps this is why I'm gullible and impressionable. Obviously, both are important. Ultimately, maybe actions. But powerful words can last forever.

  9. Actiona are words. Words are actions.

    We see, and interpret, our own actions and those of others, in words and through them.

    Our words are units of agency, of action. Speaking words, writing them, thinking them, *being* them - these are all actions.

    Too often, we tend to think of things in life in terms of binary opposite and blacks and whites. I think this is yet another instance of that vexing continuum of grays.

    Apologies if this makes little sense. My head is in the philosophical clouds today.

    Great post. Great question.

  10. This one's easy. I'm a writer and I know how powerful words can be. But you've got to waatch what people do to discover who they are. Actions, baby, actions!

  11. I am going to give a religious spin on this, in my church we are taught to do good works. The reason? To show God that we love him. It also helps us to fulfill that great commandment: love others as we love ourselves.

    So, I think actions are powerful. However, words are often a form of works: thank-you cards, a simple concerned e-mail, saying hi, etc. Are they [actions and words], then, not mutually exclusive but a combination that yields great power?

  12. hmm, interesting question. I think it must be both. While words are a powerful tool we use to define ourselves and our surroundings, what we say is a bit meaningless without action to follow it through. It is action that can make our words true and valid. Once again great question.

  13. I have written and rewritten this comment a half dozen times already because I can't make up my mind on it. I am leaning towards actions holding more water than words but then again, words are powerful. If I don't hear conviction in someone's words, I lean toward not trusting them. So, as Ambrosia mentioned, I think power comes in a combination of the two.


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