Monday, January 2, 2017

Words Shape Worlds

Words have meaning. They have value and purpose. Take a word like fidelity or integrity and roll it around upon your tongue. Taste it in all its complexity and strength of flavors, know its worth, and then swallow it down into your soul, knowing it will fill you up, give you sustenance and health. Words are shiny jewels you can carry about with you wherever you go. They brighten your appearance and enhance your worth.

Words are the building blocks of a person’s character. A man cannot find a woman’s soul through the assemblage of words used for her body parts. Describing her as “hot” will only hide what is understood when the word beautiful is used. No one can come closer to the sublime by using words like “shit” and “fuck”. He who uses the word “bitch” rarely uses the word “love”. The words we use shape our viewpoint, shape our reality. Judge a man by the words he uses. A thoughtful man carefully chooses the right word the way a mechanic chooses the appropriate tool.

Choosing the right words helps determine your character, and your character determines your destiny. You can tell where a path is leading you by the road signs. While the road to Hell may be paved with good intentions, its road signs and billboards will be littered with vulgarities, slurs, and putdowns. Likewise the path to Heaven will have posts containing words such as “compassion” and “sacrifice”, “patience” and “commitment”.

I’m afraid the road we are on now is the oblivion expressway. The words come quickly as we speed ahead and are gone just as fast. Like junk food, they appeal to our childish tastes but provide us no sustenance. They are fun and they are easy, they are painless but they are also weightless. They are words like “now”, “free”, and “extreme”.

Worse than using words that have no real meaning is the debasing of words that do. Those without respect for words have decoupled the word “awesome” from God and from nature. They have taken “wholesome goodness” out of grandma’s kitchen and placed it upon the shelves at Walmart, vast containers of it being shipped to us from foreign factories.

Those with the greatest appreciation for the worth and power of words often become English Majors. Unfortunately, they then graduate into a world without a sufficient appreciation for the beauty and worth of words. So they find themselves in possession of something beautiful and dangerous and unappreciated. Like a man who is unable to earn a proper living but has a facility with rare and precious gems, he soon finds himself selling them for less than their proper worth. And in the process he sells them to less than scrupulous buyers. Like pretty but poor young girls he sends words to do the most unsavory of work for him in order to bring in a few dollars.

The word abomination needs to be used more often, as does the word sacred. So too words like respect, dignity, soul, community, hope, faith, charity, commitment, sacrifice. Don’t gulp them down like a super-sized order of fries. Taste and get to know the separate attributes that makes the whole, experience how they affect your soul. Kindness. What sweet and comforting flavors such a word contains. Gentleness. Savor the subtle flavors. It is not a bag of Xtreme flavored chips, it is a soft and soothing word that comforts the soul if not washed down by a liter of Mountain Dew. Sweetness. Beauty. Purity. Taste them all separately, how, like a ripe piece of fruit, they are bursting not only with flavor but with life-giving sustenance. They are healthy, organic, real.

Each word has its worth, has a combination of shades of meaning that makes it unique and paints for us a slightly richer view of the world. Humility. It is like a freshly baked loaf of bread right from the oven. Enduring. Reverence. We cannot come to an appreciation of the soul without words such as these.

In the society we live, too often words are abused in order to take advantage of others. Insults are used to strip others of their dignity. Superlatives are used in order to sell product. Labels are used to divide us. It is up to us to pay proper respect to such words. Man is a creature of language. We cannot truly show respect for one another until we can show respect for our choice of words. To misuse them is to weaken them, like a tool that is used for the wrong purpose. Each word expresses a thought or a feeling that is valuable for human understanding. Each helps us in its own way to bridge the gap between individuals, helps bind us together. Just as the words you choose help to create the person you will become, so too is a society built upon the words it uses most often. If we wish to build a society that is strong and enduring, we cannot be too careful in our choice of words.

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