Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Words Matter

            Words have the power of life and death.  Words reveal wisdom and foolishness.  Words we say can either help or hinder.   As the Proverb says, "The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly" (Proverbs15:2).
            As Kevin Hall explains in his book, Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words, words are the basic material for communication.  Stephen R. Covey says in his foreword to Hall's book, "words have an inherent power, a force capable of lighting one′s paths and horizons. Used correctly and positively, words are the first building blocks for success and inner peace. Used incorrectly and negatively, they are capable of undermining even the best of intentions. This is true in business, in personal relationships, and every other walk of life."   Words create thoughts ... thoughts create ideas ... ideas linked with feelings create actions ..., and actions produce results (good or bad results).  Words paint mental pictures of reality, and set the forces into action to bring the picture alive. 
            This becomes very important because a person's reality is determined by what he believes to be true.  A person's beliefs may be based on truth, or beliefs may be based on falsehood.  Beliefs based on truth produce constructive actions.  Beliefs based on  falsehood yield destructive results.  Every lie contains enough truth to make it believable.  Discerning truth from falsehood is not always easy, especially when words are incorrectly used to intentionally confuse or mislead the hearer.  
            Euphemism is a common technique used to hide the truth.  The dictionary definition of the word "euphemism" is, "the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant."  Because of the human innate bent toward the negative, the truth is often disagreeable with our natural inclinations.  But whether we agree or not, the truth is the truth.  If the truth survives our self-made test of "agreeableness," then it faces our emotional condition also bent toward judgmentalism and taking offense.  Many times the truth hurts.  But trying to hide the truth in order to avoid disagreement and pain undermines (destroys) accuracy and trust in communication. 
            Euphemism is commonly used by people trying to engineer social change.  Socially acceptable terminology is crafted to sensitize acceptance of otherwise unacceptable practices.  Words become the weapons for the battleground of debate.  Over time, the meaning of some words are intentionally (and unintentionally) altered in attempt to shift a "new normal."  One such example in my lifetime has been the word "choice."
            Americans place a high value on choice.  Options are a good thing.  But options have no value without life itself.  The truth is that life trumps choice.  Any falsehood trying to discredit this truth would exalt choice to a higher value than life itself. 
            Thus, the word "choice" has become the key to the debate for or against abortion.  But the real issue is life vs. death, not pro-choice vs. anti-choice.  Abortion does not give a choice to the baby whatsoever, but it claims to be "pro-choice."  This is a lie made believable by denying the life of a baby.  So, never should a person who supports the rights of a baby's life use the term "pro-choice" to identify abortion advocates.  In reality, abortion means babies have no choice.  In reality abortion is pro-death, and makes mockery of the word "choice."   The pro-abortion movement uses the "pro-choice" label in an effort to hide their true pro-death actions.  Hence the word "choice" is used to twist the truth by hiding an unfavorable action to highlight a more acceptable idea.  
            For pro-lifers to use the term "pro-choice" is speaking agreement with destruction of  life.  The debate is defined by the words used to describe the ideas.  Use the correct words (to describe the truth), and the debate can be won.  Use the wrong words (in agreement with the  opponent), and the debate is lost before it begins.  
            The recent presidential election demonstrated more than ever that the establishment media is one-sided on matters relating to politics and social issues. In my opinion, the establishment media has become mostly propaganda at the hands of skilled deceivers.  I believe this because words are used over and over again to manipulate the truth and influence people's minds with falsehood.  When lies are used to hide, ignore, or twist the truth, you have deception.  When deception is used to hide, ignore, or twist the facts, you have propaganda.  As someone has said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to the wrong facts." 
            The major so-called news outlets have often abandoned factual reporting for sensational scoring.  They have proven themselves inaccurate and untrustworthy communicators.  Their misuse of words and ideas to negatively influence their hearers' thinking and behavior  is very destructive.  A number of books have appeared recently written by journalists and others who have been stonewalled in bringing the truth to the public.  One such book is by Sheryl Attkisson called The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote.  Attkisson goes into much greater details than I can here. 
            My point is not to bash the media, but to raise our awareness that words matter.  "Political correctness" (PC) ranks high on the list of enemies of the ideals our nation was founded upon.   PC is a favorite media technique.  PC devalues words and the imagination of the hearer.  PC devalues free speech and communication.  PC devalues individual thinking and expression.  PC must be recognized and eliminated from our conversation.   Another Proverb says, "Using the speech of a fool makes you one too. Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him" (Proverbs  26:4).
            My hope is that those reading this will make a choice for truth over falsehood.  Euphemisms like casual sex, affair, and gay are replacements for the truth of fornication, adultery, and homosexuality (respectively).  "Fake news" is deceptive propaganda.  "Gender identity" is a term often used for gender confusion.  The phrase "separation of church and state" was crafted to limit religious speech and faith practices in the public square.  The phrase has no origin in the US Constitution and no legitimacy for preventing people to practice their faith.  The list goes on ....   What terminology can we think of right now that would be another example of word manipulation to hide, ignore, or misrepresent the truth? 
            Words matter.  After we discover the incorrect use of words, the next step is to re-program our minds to use the correct words in our speech.  Make a choice to buck the trends of "political" correctness, and simply speak correctness.   Whenever we hear words put together in a way we haven't heard before, we should stop and ask ourselves, "What is the REAL meaning behind these words?" 
            Will we pay attention to words and language we use to communicate, or will we let others dictate our thinking, speech, and behavior in a negative direction?  Let us make our choice of words ring truth and life!
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry