The passionate demand for “more than prayers” in the wake of mass shootings makes me think things can – maybe even will – change. So I hesitate to note my concern with the use of “Never again!” as a rallying cry.

Mass murder in our schools, churches, outdoor concerts and elsewhere is undeniably horrific. But the phrase “Never again” usually refers to the Holocaust.

It is especially important in these days of renewed xenophobia, nationalism and religious intolerance to not dilute the memory of the systematic mass murder of millions of people.

I felt the same way about media descriptions of the site of the 9/11 attack as “ground zero.” The phrase means the touchdown spot of a nuclear bomb. It means total annihilation, which 9/11 – as horrible as it was – was not. The use of the phrase both diminished the horror of nuclear war and fueled the post-9/11 hysteria that led us into an unwarranted war.

Just words, yes. But words have power. They have context and connotation. Just consider how difficult it is these days to use the word “sad” without irony.

Cathy Wolff