A story. William Booth founded the Salvation Army in the slums of London in 1865. At that time, Victorian England did not show great kindness to its poor. Early in his endeavors, Booth was actually arrested as he practiced his charity.
Despite all his difficulties, Booth persevered in bringing relief to the poor of England. By 1880, he was he was ready to send his troops to America, where the Salvation Army has grown to thousands of members in all 50 states.
How can his philosophy, the beacon which guided him and his thousands of devoted workers, be summed up? On an important anniversary, Booth wished to send an inspiring cable to Salvation Army posts around the world. He couldn’t allow himself a long cable—it would be too expensive.
And so he chose to cable only one word.
This lovely and moving story holds two messages for us as writers.
First, it reminds us of the power of one word. Just think of the Salvation Army workers all over the world receiving a cable from their founder with that one word: Others.
One word matters. When we choose our words with care, we’re remembering that one word, well chosen, can make a difference. One word can open hearts and minds.
Second, it reminds us that our writing isn’t just about us: It’s about others—our readers. When we share what we know and believe, what we’ve learned through life experience, what might help or heal or inspire, what might entertain and offer escape and pleasure, we give a gift to our readers. We show them they matter to us.
Others. One word can make a difference. Let’s take this to heart as we all write on!
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