Artigas

In the centre of the city of Montevideo is Plaza Independencia. The plaza is dominated by a statue of Jose Gervasio Artigas. Most people consider him be the founding father of Uruguay. As my new Uruguayan friend Alberto described it to me, Artigas is an important part of Uruguay’s mythology. That is, his story is important to the cultural identity of Uruguay.

Artigas fought for independence from Spain, and then from Argentina, and then from Spain again. Although he was exiled from Uruguay one year before the country gained independence in 1828, he is considered the father of the country because of his visionary leadership and because of the way people followed him and took up the cause of an independent Uruguay along with him.

There was no statue of Artigas in the plaza until the 1970’s. It was Uruguay’s dictatorship that decided to place his statue in the centre of the city. This is confusing. You can imagine that the Uruguay that Artigas fought for and the Uruguay that the dictatorship had in mind were totally different things. Artigas wanted independent states and freedom, and the dictatorship wanted centralized power and control. So why did they place that statue so many years after Artigas had been exiled and after Uruguay had signed its own constitution?

It is about stories, just like almost everything else. The dictatorship needed Uruguay’s national story. It needed to unite the people around the historical figures and the mythology that would make people feel like the dictatorship had the best interests of the citizens in mind. The dictatorship had to give the impression that it wanted the same things that Artigas did. Since Artigas had been dead for over 100 years, it was kind of hard for anybody to argue. All they knew was the legend of Artigas, and he was such a well liked figure, a legend, really, that the dictatorship knew it could use his popularity to their advantage.

So, the dictatorship placed his statue in the middle of the Plaza where it stands today. Unlike many other statues of historical figures, there are no words anywhere to be found either on or around the statue. There are no quotations from Artigas’s speeches to the people. There are no mottos or sayings that are attributed to the great leader. The dictatorship could not find one sentence or phrase that Artigas spoke that they thought was safe. The words of Artigas encouraged people to unite and work together to gain power and freedom. That, of course, was the last thing the dictatorship wanted the people to read about. After all, who knew what the people would do with those words? Words, after all, are unpredictable. They need to be interpreted by each individual reader. Controlling how a person experiences words is impossible. It doesn’t matter if the person is a dictator, a teacher, or anybody else. Words are wild things, and they can not be reigned in just because people are scared of their power. 

The words of Artigas were deemed too dangerous for the people by the dictatorship of Uruguay in the 1970s. If you travel to Plaza Independencia in Montevideo today, you will see the really beautiful statue. You will see, carved into the base of the statue, pictures of people following Artigas through the countryside. However, you will not find any words. Words, in this case, were too dangerous. 

Assignment 5: Write about one way you can thing of that words can be dangerous. You might give an example from your own life, or an example for the wider world. Be creative!

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50 Comments

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50 responses to “Artigas

  1. reynamoreno

    One way that words are dangerous is they can be offensive even when that is not the intention. Words need to be chosen carefully because they are powerful things. Your words show who you are and how you think. 

    • Rachelle

      I agree with Reyna, sometimes a person can get very upset and say words, and not intended to have said it. Sometimes a lot of people apologize, which is the right thing to do, but at the same time they might not mean the ‘sorry’ and at times they forget that the word ‘sorry’ won’t take back the mean words that they said.

  2. Gabriela J. Jimenez

    I agree with what Reyna stated and I also believe that words are dangerous when it comes to where certain things are said. for example in my life, when my mother or father cooks something that I don’t like I keep my comments to myself and make something else to eat. If I would’ve made a rude comment to one of them while they were cooking, I would really get them angry, it would hurt their feelings, and it would cause them to say things I don’t want to hear. Saying certain things at wrong times could get you in trouble; it could hurt other people’s feelings and cause you to lose the people around you.

  3. Channel Santiago

    I believe that certain words are dangerous when it is used in bad ways. For example people get prejudged by the fact of how they talk or express their feelings. Using bad words against people is bad and thats not the only way people show their actions they also show their face emotions.
    -channel santiago

  4. Paola

    I also agree with Reyna about words being dangerous and offensive when it comes too talking . People use them to hurt , offend , describe others , lie , etc . For example , words are part of my life and everyone else because its a way to communicate with each other . It has an impact in my life because I’ve been hurt by lovers , and talked by others. It helps realize who are your true friends or not . Words can be really dangerous when it comes to arguments , bullying and etc. People use them for lies and express themselves in bad ways towards others that can even cause suicide . It has its own way of showing how your personality is like .

  5. Xavier Rosario

    One way that words can be dangerous is because people might take them too serious and might hurt themselves or others trying to impress you or some one else. Like if you tell some one your scared to jump this fence or whatever for example they might try it to prove you wrong and end up hurting themselves.

  6. Jessica

    One way words can be dangerous is because they are many different ways to interpret them and it could lead to many complications lost of friendships, relationships,etc..Words can be used to describe your feelings and people it can be dangerous because when used to describe someone in a bad way, it hurts the other person’s feelings.Then again words in way aren’t as dangerous because they are used to tell the truth I might be wrong but I rather be told the truth then lied to that’s in my opinion the only way when words are not as dangerous.Also when they are used to comfort someone they are rather good then dangerous you just have to chose the words wisely and be careful how you used them that’s all.

  7. Joanna Hernandez

    I think one way words can be used in a dangerous way is when they are use the word that are said against the person . For example in a government if they say everybody is free to say and do what they want and they say were is the freedom when we are able to do whatever we want with our place that we all live in .This words can be dangerous because the person who said them wouldn’t be able to give a powerful respond to the person it was said to .

  8. Dhilexa Martinez

    Words are a way to express opinions, thoughts and other things etc. etc. But is it the words that are dangerous or the mind? I feel that both can be very dangerous if you don’t think thoroughly about what to think and what to say. I think there’s a difference though, i think you can control your words, but i don’t think you can control your thoughts or opinions. Opinions and thoughts can be hurtful and disrespectful, depending of the way you say it, so the way you put the words together is key on expressing your thoughts and opinions to others in a respectful way.

    • Lhia Hernandez

      I completely agree with Dhilexa. Our brains control every single piece of our bodies, including our thoughts and mouths. Even though we might have times when we speak without thinking, most of those times we end up saying things we don’t or didn’t mean. When we say something, we first think it through and then decide what and how we want to say it. One sentence, with the exact same words, can have different meanings to certain people. Therefore we have to be careful what we say to certain people because they might turn it into something completely different and then tell others what they thought was said. “Words, after all, are unpredictable. They need to be interpreted by each individual reader. Controlling how a person experiences words is impossible. It doesn’t matter if the person is a dictator, a teacher, or anybody else. Words are wild things, and they can not be reigned in just because people are scared of their power.” This quote explains and shows what I had said earlier, and it also shows that words have an impact on what people think and say. As Kathy said, I also believe in the saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” but words don’t fall far behind.
      -Lhia Hernandez

  9. Luis Rodriguez

    There are many words that can be really offensive to people in this world, because of the memories that people have of hearing that specific type of word and it’s meaning can tick that specific person off, by being disrespectful in any type of way you say it, that’s why people need to be careful of what they say in any type of way.

  10. Kathy Tavarez

    Even though I believe the saying “actions are louder than words,” words can have a big significance. Words should be chosen based on the time and place you’re in because there’s always a right time to say certain things. An example is in school where you have to speak respectfully towards your teachers and classmates and foul language is not appropriate in that type of environment. However it’s a different story if you’re in the streets because it’s fine if to speak with “slang” when you’re with friends. Additionally, I think that words can be dangerous at some moments because the way you speak and tone used can effect the way you deliver a certain message. I think it’s important for people to look at their surroundings and process what they’re going to say before they actually say it because unfortunately words can hurt.

  11. Elena_Collado

    i personaly think that words can be super dangerous, thats why is always important to THINK before you speak. it is always good to analyze what you are about to say and also how are you going to say it. Sometimes words can hurt a person more than a punch, words can be offenssive and also you can abuse someone verbacaly. As i read kathy’s post, i i agreed with her when she said “i believe actions peak laouder than words but words have a big significance”. i agree with her because when you speak with someone you wre showing that person how well you communicate and how intelligent you are. like i said before it is always important to manage how you tal and what you say, especially when theres kids around.

  12. Amanda Duran

    I agree with Reyna, many times people can say harsh things to someone and not notice how it can actually hurt the others feelings. I think its just apart of some people, thats who they are. But I believe people should start thinking of what they’re going to say first a lot more than they usually do. Dnagerous words are what lead to many cases of suicide, because of the verbal abuse/bullying. I dont think people may notice when they say something insulting if they dont think its insulting. It just goes now to show how it all depends on the mind set of the person.

  13. Sucre Mamolejo

    One way I think words can be dangerous is when the wrong person can use words to munipulate a person. Such as Adolf Hitler used his wods to convince the people of Germany to kill all those Jews. Words as you can see are very powerful, I have heard in moives and real life when someone uses the word love,hate and words such as these i have heard them saying “love/hate is a strong word.”

  14. Words can be dangerous in the sense that they are very persuasive basically, words lead to action. This relates to most dictatorships; It’s as if saying the dictator is the villain attempting to persuade the people into believing he’s not evil. It’s dangerous because he has the power and if you believe him, he might just end up silencing you until your death.

  15. Anthony Vargas

    Words can be dangerous by being offensive to others and it maybe interpreted in the wrong way and cause many problems. Additionally, when words are offensive it can cause fights, it may hurt someone’s feelings and cause them to be sad, etc.

    • Lorianny Almonte

      I agree with you Anthony a word is consider dangerous is when someone say something offensive and hurts someone esles feelings and makes them feel bad. Also when you say a word and the person you miss understood what you mean’t.

  16. byrongarcia2297

    Words can be very dangerous if you don’t use them the right way. For example, they can offend people and make them depressed for a couple of days. I know because it happened to one of my friends…i felt really bad because i didn’t know that words could so dangerous.
    ~Byron J. Garcia

  17. Erika Cabrera

    Words are very dangerous just because they are open to interpretation, not every word that is said or written down gives the same meaning to people who come from different backgrounds. When you think about it only words that are basic and giving simple meanings all mean the same thing, but when you put one word with another meanings can change drastically. For example, when slavery existed, slaves were not allowed to learn how to read and write it would change everything and slaves will become aware of everything happening around them changing everything that was planned. They were only supposed to be slaves with no intellectual thoughts on anything, but how to cook something the right way if you were lucky, if not how to stay away from trouble in the fields. Words have always put people in different positions calling the need for debates and new ideas to be established. Imagine living in a world where only one idea was accepted and everyone had to live by it, understand it, and agree with it. How boring this place would be.

  18. jayson014

    Words are dangerous because it could end up offending or hurting anyone and might cause a person to do something that isn’t right. If you are the one who is being offended of course you should use words to defend who you realy are. in the words that you are talking about and words you personally should control what comes out your mouth

  19. xiara guzman

    Words could be as dangerous as other weapon in this world. Words could either make a person feel good about them self or feel horrible about them self. I believe that the phrase “think before you talk” relates to a lot of things because people don’t understand how much it could hurt a person. For example when bullies say worst thing to other kids and the kid commites sudices that’s one way that words could be extremly dangerous.

  20. Yesenia Negron

    I agree with Xiara, words can be used as a powerful weapon in this world. Words can change a person’s way of thinking about life, everyone around them, and change the way they see themselves aswell. Words can affect someone so much that they can change their life or it can be a reason for a person to not have their life. I remember that Mr. Lenzner had shown us a video of some man rudely talking about us Latinos; he wanted everyone to only speak English and not Spanish because Spanish isn’t “soffisticated enough”.. This shows that words can be dangerous because it changed the way many peopld think about this man.

  21. Madeline Cruz

    Words can be dangerous because you might not know how the other person will react to your words and how bad that could make them feel about themselves. This is like school where kids have to deal with being bully by other kids that look better then them or that are popular.Kids now still think is a game playing with other people’s feelings and making them feel awful about themselves.Words can be very offensive and make people think that they not to good or they don’t fit in because of looks.People could also do suicide by other people hurtful words that’s why people should never trust others with their life’s cause they could use those things against you.

  22. I agree with Xiara, words can be as dangerous as any other weapon. People tend to just say the things that pop into their minds. They don’t have a filter. If you are fast on judging someone and then you tell maybe your friends, that can spread and hurt that person. Maybe you say some thing really rude about someone. What if that person was already having a really bad day? Maybe you caused them to do something they will regret. So i believe that words can really hurt someone. Sometimes more than their actions

    • Fernando Alvarado

      I agree with you Sally words can be just as dangerous as weapons because instead of hurting you physically they can hurt you emotionally. This can be just as worst or more even. Words can be used by bullies to hurt other people or even unintentionally but they still hurt the person. I believe that words are very hurtful sometimes and people should be careful of what they say to other people before they get hurt.

  23. scarlet frias

    Words can be dangerous in any sense because sometime we feel sad, and we don’t recognize things that people been saying, words can be the biggest thing that could heart somebody without seem it.

  24. Katy Rodriguez

    A time that words can get dangerous is when a person is mad. Personally when I’m mad I’m so mad I say things I really don’t mean it just that anger brings them out of me . I’m sure may people will agree because when you mad it’s like a side of you that isn’t really you so you say things that you really did mean or maybe the anger made you word it in a way it’s not meant to be interpreted.

  25. Arlin Guillen

    Words can be dangerous in the sense that you may be saying it one way and the other person would interpret it an another causing a big problem. Words are also dangerous in the sense that they can offend somebody even if it wasn’t in your intention. People just need to make sure that when they say something they realize that words do hurt, and they should think about what they say before they say it.

  26. natalyandkirby

    Some words that can be dangerous is if is offensive or something that will make them sad or mad.When I’m angry i would just cuss a lot but right away i will feel better by ignoring why i was angry.In school some people don’t care if they hurt a person like making fun of them or making up gossip about them.

  27. Alfha Gonzalez

    I think words can be dangerous when people are upset and don’t mean to say it. Sometimes we get hurt by someone when they say something but they don’t mean to hurt you. I think that words can be dangerous when the person talking doesn’t know what they really want to say and it hurts other people because they think they said it to hurt them even thought they didn’t. Sometimes people have to think two times before they say something, for example if you don’t want to hurt a person and you don’t know what to say then stay quiet because it can really hurt.

  28. Ariel Ng

    Words can’t be dangerous unless you use a word that you dont really know but you hear other people saying it. So if you say a word that does not offend your friends but then you say that same word to someone else, they might think it was offensive to them and they will think negative about you. If you dont know what word people are saying, dont say it, it might be offensive to others.

    • I agree with you words can be dangerous because some times you can say something that nobody wants to hear because sometimes it might be personal and it might me offensive to someone.

  29. Bethany Vasquez

    One way that words can be dangerous is by saying things like hurting other or demanding. Other people can feel offended by it.

  30. Devante Meran

    Words can be dangerous in many ways. For example, friendships, relationships, government and family. In my life, words are dangerous by me regretting saying something hurtful to a person I care about or love.You dont always think before you say, sometimes people say before they think.

  31. Victor Liz

    Words can be dangerous when you don’t think them before you say them. You hurt people this way and they might feel offended and attack you back without thinking what they are going to say and this creates a problem between you and that person because both are not thinking what they are going to say.

  32. Wualez Tejada

    I guess that the most important thing you need to do before you speak is think, and if you have to think of it, take it because sometimes what you say could sometimes hurt the important people in your life that you love. So if you need to think about what you’re about to say, i guess take the chance

  33. Stephanie Lozano

    Words can be dangerous and lead to wrong doors when you don’t think they will and that is why words should be thought about twice before they are said. People may choose whatever way they want to interpret them which is what makes them dangerous and the truth is that people miss understand each other everyday because sometimes the truth hurts or people just don’t know how to express themselves.

  34. Edelin Contreras

    One way words can be dangerous is because it will sound too offensive to certain people. What you think won’t offend or hurt somebody’s else’s feelings might actually end up offending them big time. That is why it is very important to think through carefully what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, because the tone in which you say something can mean a whole different thing. For example we all know that if we yell we are expressing anger so definitively the tone in which you say things means a lot. Furthermore, things can be interpreted wrong by certain people. For example some people can’t take a joke and sometimes the things you say will end up hurting someones feeling really badly or it might be interpret as ‘mean’ or ‘harsh’. Overall, words can be dangerous and we must think through what we are going to say before actually saying it! Sometimes when I am mad I yell and say things I don’t mean and eventually will regret it. I think that a better way of dealing with this would be by keeping it to myself in which only I will know exactly what I mean.

  35. Jasmine

    Example: Words can be very dangerous when spoken at the wrong time / wrong place.

    _ This can be a tricky situation if you find yourself saying something at a time or environment where its not permitted or when its simply just not appropriate. For example, in school at W.H.E.E.L.S we are ought to know to not talk back to our teachers however there has been many cases where students have in fact. That’s an example of saying something at the wrong time, when your not supposed to. Words in this case are dangerous to the class’s habitat because it ruins the students ability to learn and intake information. Words are dangerous in this case but in affecting a students ability to learn.

  36. Alexis j.

    Words can be very dangerous if not known how to use correctly or at the right time. For example when talking to friends you usually don’t talk the same with a professor. Doing so may make you look bad and cause sober consciences. Another example is it can be mistaken for bad language and can be offended or scared for their own safety. Just like when a group of people were practicing a play and people got scared because they actually thought they finished robbing and where fighting among each other. You must know how to speak cause words can be miscomprehended.

  37. Roberto Nunez

    Words can be dangerous when you’re insulting someone.and hurting them. It also depends how you use those words and by saying them too. One example, is the n-word because some people use it as a joke but it’s not funny at all because back in the past when there was slaves and it was very brutal back then.

  38. Ronald Alvarado

    One way words can be dangerous if they are constantly repeated since young. Words then can make a change in election votes just by manipulating the audience by using uplifting words, such as “yes we can” from the Obama campaign. After you feel inspired by words that are meaningful it is hard to change your mind about the decision leading to horrible regrets in the future. How can we stop that? I’m not sure we all fall guilty into those traps.

  39. Aneurys Gonzalez

    One way words can be dangerous is when isn’t use for bullying to make jokes on someones feeling and emotionally make the victim’s go into depression.One example is when a person that is gay come out to their friend and family and people don’t expect them for who they are and get to a depressed face that they kill themselves.

  40. One way is by using them inappropriatly and sometimes the person would take it personally. some people use word in situations that can get them killed like some people in history during a dictatorship. Ex: if you say something that the dictator doesn’t like you could be killed.

  41. Raymond Carvajal

    words can be dangerous for example you can say something one way but another person can take it the wrong way so you basically made a big fight or made two friendships fall apart without knowing.

  42. christopher

    One way words can be dangerous is when you are the leader of a protest and you say something but give off the wrong meaning. That may cause your followers to something not intended for which will ruin everything.

  43. Alex Mayi

    “Sticks and Stones may brake my bones but word will never hurt me” This statement is not true word are powerful weapons just as much as they are masters of peace words can Show others the truth they could start a riot they could start a revolution they could turn a nice young man into a monster.

  44. Brian Concepcion

    INSULTS!!!! There dangerous especially to the people who do the insult. I saw this video one time when a bunch of high school kids bully a middle schooler and one day the middle schooler just appears with a gun and shoots one of the highschooler.

  45. How words can hurt? Look at the suicide rate on teens and children. These kids are killing themselves because they are being called names on a daily bases. You may think its harmless just saying a name but those names hurt. Suicide in the United States is the 11th leading cause of death in the country. In 2006, the total number of suicide deaths was 33,300. It was the 7th leading cause of death for males, and 16th leading cause of death for females. Suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. I went into a deeper research and found out teens who suicide 47% kill them self about emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. And out of that 12% are because of name calling or emotional abuse. That is 1,820 people who took their life because of name calling. Remember words are powerful.

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