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Words and Action

November 07, 2021
by Mark David Siegel

Hi everyone:

I’m a man of words. Sometimes too many. Words are important, but actions more so.

The saying “actions speak louder than words” dates to the 1200s, appearing in a sermon by St. Anthony of Padua: "Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speak.” The related “practice what you preach” appears in the Book of Matthew 23:3: “For they preach, but do not practice.” The phrase can be traced further back to the work of Titus Maccius Plautus in his “Asinaria”: “facias ipse quod faciamus nobis suades” or “do what you persuade us to do.”

I love words. Words inspire and reassure. They convey intent and tell stories. That’s why we craft mission statements, rename buildings, and plant lawn signs.

But words are insufficient by themselves. In isolation, they can distract attention and hide inaction. After we chant “Black Lives Matter,” will we actually fight racism?” When we say “believe women,” will we actually listen? Once we claim “no human is illegal” or “science is real” or “kindness is everything,” will we actually act accordingly?

Though I love words, I’m wary of mere virtue signaling. Gorgeous metaphors, artful phrases, soaring speech, trenchant analysis- we need them. But don’t fool yourself. Words invite others to probe. Do we mean what we say? Are they empty words or a call to action?

So yes, in this residency, we believe in diversity, equity, and inclusion. We believe in gender equity and workplace safety. We believe people must respect one another. We believe in kindness.

But what next? Will we create a community where all are truly welcome? Where all feel safe? Where kindness rules? Can we forge a reality that speaks for itself?

There’s so much to say and so much work to do. But we must practice what we preach.

Take care, everyone, and enjoy your sunny Sunday,


Submitted by Mark David Siegel on November 07, 2021