They do, don’t they? Otherwise, how else to explain the endless plethora in the course of a single day, heard from every corner and source imaginable: The radio; the television; DVD; streaming; other electronic mediums; bystanders; on the telephone; written forms in email, texts, Facebook postings; everywhere, the insular words of a private-public conversation — public because much of it is accessible to everyone, except for those whispered soft nothings in the privacy of bedrooms and lips upon ears, but throughout acted upon “as if” each exchange of communication is between the sender and receiver, the declarative and the reply, the conversationalist and the lecturer; and so the infinite stream of words flow back and forth like the ebb of tides that have washed the shores of this earth from the beginning of time, or so it seems.
But what if actions never follow upon words; do they still matter? When a person condemns another and shouts out, “He’s just full of it!” — what exactly do we mean? A person makes a promise; words are spoken; perhaps even a “contract” is written up and entered into. But then, nothing happens. No actions are taken; a lawsuit is filed, and more words are entered into the database of the “justice system”; a trial is held, and more words spoken, this time in front of a judge.
At what point did the words originally spoken or written fail to matter, and when did they then again matter? What is meant by “matter” — is it only in conjunction with actions taken, or do the words themselves, hanging in the suspended universe of the ethereal, have some impact despite no one taking any notice of it? Is a “vow” or a “promise” something more than mere words? If a person makes a promise and marries, takes the traditional vows of fidelity and honor, do the words matter, or only by the actions that follow, or both? And what of the person who says nothing — in past ages, there were men (and women) who had a reputation of “being a man (or woman) of few words” — but always follows through on his or her commitments? Do the words not spoken matter?
Yes, yes — the linguistic philosopher will observe that the very lack of words was telling all the same, but we are not talking about that — not of silence, but of words spoken, and not of those unspoken. Thus do we say of the person who keeps his promise — “He is a man (or woman) of his/her word”. But what if he/she breaks every promise spoken, and says upon getting caught, “But I never meant a word of it anyway”? Does that make a difference? Or of the boring lecturer who no one listens to, but then when a fire breaks out and a small child yells, “Fire” and everyone listens and exits safely — how did the action following upon the words spoken matter?
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition has come to a point where preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, what must always be kept in mind is that the entire administrative process of the bureaucratic methodology of “Federal Disability Retirement” is based entirely upon “words” — of meeting the legal criteria with words; of describing the nexus between the medical condition and one’s positional duties with words; of making persuasive legal arguments with words.
Words matter by being effective, where actions follow upon the singularly unique encounter between the insular world of subjective words and the objective reality of “others” listening, taking it in, then acting upon them — as in granting an approval for a Federal Disability Retirement application upon a submission of a bunch of effective words that comprise a successful Federal Disability Retirement compilation. That’s when words matter, and the manner in which words are put together.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire