Chapter 31 of InCite, by Scott Ski
The Right Word
By the mid 1930�s, lionized Irish dramatist, George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) towered as the leading figurehead in 20th Century theater. Self educated through extraordinary amounts of time spent studying every subject imaginable at the British Museum, his thought provoking scripts with deep social commentary, and razor-sharp wit raised him to prestigious standing� socialist spokesman, freethinker, defender of women's rights, advocate of income equality literary critic and playwright who spoke beyond common themes. Shaw�s comments and visage appeared for innumerable issues and causes. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, Shaw shocked the world by accepting the honor but refusing the money.
During the midst of his ever-increasing popularity, Shaw received an unusual letter from a somewhat eccentric New York socialite. She wrote:
"Dear Mr. Shaw,
I recently read with interest a news article in which a statistician compiled all the words collected from your various literary works and divided it by the gross receipts and royalties you have gained. He estimated that, in your career, you have averaged $5.00 for every word you have written."
Considering this time period of the 1930�s Great Depression, the amount mentioned would be a very considerable sum of money. Well-paid bank tellers earned $5.00 for an entire week�s salary. In addition, equating verbiage with monetary gain also proved very complimentary. However, the letter then took a strange twist�
"Enclosed is $5.00�
Please send me one of your words." To a famous celebrity like Shaw, such a letter could be ignored or considered a prank. A busy man, and not one to dawdle in folly, one could question if Shaw would take the missive seriously enough to compose a genuine response.
He did. Nearly a month later, the New York woman received an envelope from Shaw. Inside was a neatly folded, single piece of stationary. A single word appeared upon it:
"Thanks." The innocuous and insignificant incident generated tremendous publicity for Shaw. Newspapers regaled his response. Shaw created a rejoinder that proved appropriate, exacting, well thought, and humorous. One word revealed the precision, thought and wit that Shaw infused in his work. In addition, the woman certainly received her money�s worth. The "little" incident brought her attention in high society columns and the local news sections of the papers.
A person whose fame rested upon his extensive vocabulary and far-reaching use of words showed his superior command of the language, his wit and his ability to fulfill a unique request with the use of a single, simple word.
If a man so renowned regarding his use of words would choose one so carefully, how much more should we?
� Scott Ski
All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.
What is InCite?
Throughout generations of humanity, whether sitting around early primitive campfires, a medieval stone hearth or the traditional kitchen table, the recounting of the past provided instruction and guidelines; building insight, inspiration and direction. Recently, our increasing technology has usurped this ancient tradition, replacing it with hours before the television, instant messaging and emails. Mouse clicks to text message even immediate family members replaces personal, interactive time together. This book, InCite, be it read alone or shared aloud with others, rekindles that earlier, time-honored tradition of instilling guidance via lessons from the past.
People and relationships, the subjects in these true accounts, are like us today. Many have long been knit deeply into the fabric of life and generations past. Find here insights from their stories. Ranging across the spectrum, recent news to earliest lore, time swirls with the decisions made by others; events that can enlighten our choices. Daily, our actions are woven into the lives of others, and into history itself. The significance of our words and works may not be immediately revealed, but they endure. Their results, both negative and positive, will influence� even beyond our lifetime. Intuition gleaned from chronicles of the former eras offers clarity, a greater array of options along with facilitating better choices.
There is wisdom in recounting the narratives of those who came before us. They can instill the ability to discern, to choose accordingly, and to act. This small book provides resonant insights into those stories, reflections to arouse InCite.
To move to action; to stir up; to rouse; to spur or urge on