“Now, as words affect, not by any original power, but by representation, it might be supposed that their influence over the passions should be but light; yet it is quite otherwise; for we find by experience that eloquence and poetry are as capable, nay indeed much more capable, of making deep and lively impressions than any other arts, and even than nature itself in very many cases.” – Edmund Burke, On the Sublime and Beautiful, 1756.
The effect of homeopathic medicines is not at present clearly understood, but those who swear by its effectiveness claim that it works, in part, because of its subtlety. In fact, the idea that dilution increases potency rather than decreases it – less is more – is a central tenet of homeopathy.
There is much evidence of this principle at work in nature and in human nature. Burke’s eloquent words above point to the fact that a symbolic representation of something can bring about a far greater influence than the thing itself. Our words, which are symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us, do not touch upon the truth of the material or ethereal entities we seek to describe and yet they, by only poorly understood means, compel men to love, hatred, war and peace.
Too many people are, as John Wayne once quipped: “…[s]hort on ears and long on mouth.” More often than not less is more. A compassionately delivered ounce of well-chosen words will always make a more deep and lively impression than a desperately strung together ton of ill-conceived words.