Saturday, July 09, 2016

Words Matter

One of the major problems we have in America in communicating with one another is that we seem to have forgotten that the words we use have meaning. In a day of twitter and social media not only have we lost the ability to write by hand and to spell without assistance, we also have forgotten that that words have meaning. The words we use, how we use them, what order we put them in and what words we don't use, all deeply impact what people hear when we speak or write and yet this generation is so incredibly careless with our words. Many people just assume that you know what they mean even when what they mean is directly at odds with what they say and just as often get offended when we can't successfully guess their cryptic message.

I harp on about this all the time but it really is important. Sloppy language in cultural discourse leads to inflamed conversations because no one really agrees on what a topic is even defined as. Sloppy language, especially intentionally misleading language, in the church leads to people thinking they are justified when they are not and unbelievers being unequally yoked to believers because no one seems to know who is part of the church and who is not.

This is not intended as a deep, thought provoking post (obviously!) but it was something on my mind today in our current climate. If you say something but then say that we shouldn't embellish what you say but that we should add onto what you say to create a completely different definition, it seems a little silly to get mad when people take what you say at face value. I regularly check the established definition of words to make sure that what I think something means is what it actually means. I am almost always correct in my use but every now and again I realize that what I meant to say should be said a different way and revise my comments.

Let me implore us all to be more precise in the language we use, to use words as carefully as we use sharp objects or flammable liquids because in a lot of ways an imprecise word can be more deadly than a match near a gas can or a toddler running with scissors. Mean what you say and say what you mean. An old chestnut to be sure but one that still applicable today, in fact even more so in a day when our words can go instantly from a passing thought to our hands to every corner of the world in a matter of seconds. If there was ever a time that cried out for precision it is now.

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