Many people ask: "What can I do to change the culture in a positive way?... I'm still so busy raising my family... I'm not yet retired, so I can't protest or start a new organization…"
I suggest we begin by restoring our language.
Eskimos have over 40 different words for water which seem to suggest its importance to their survival and way of life. The words we use form our national and cultural identity. Words mean something! Words represent ideas and ideas have consequences. Words subtly shape our thoughts, opinions, and actions. Actions determine our character. Our character determines our destiny.
So it seems to me that individuals can indeed change the culture…by restoring our language… one word at a time.
Let's start with a simple one: the word 'love'. 'Love' is an overused and misunderstood word. How many times a day we hear, "I love my cat. I love that necklace you're wearing. I just love chocolate. I love my children, husband, and God." How strange to use the same word to describe my love for chocolate and…God?!
Properly understood, to love means to want what is good for someone else and what is good for the glory of God. We are called to love God and neighbor. This love is expressed through self-giving. It requires many human virtues such as kindness, generosity, magnanimity, patience, perseverance, and forgiveness. In other words, true love is self-sacrificing which is synonymous with the Cross. We cannot give ourselves to a necklace, chocolate, or our cat, but we can and ought to give ourselves to people and God.
Love is often confused with merely a feeling, but it's an action verb. If confined to just a feeling without sacrifice, it's lust not love. We are called to love people and God, but we use things. Our language should reflect this difference: "Chocolate is delicious. I have affection for my cat. That necklace is quite lovely. Your home is beautiful. Hot dogs are tasty. I love my husband, my friends, my children. I love God." Incidentally, very young children are prone to simplistic and extreme language. They either 'love' or 'hate' everything. Let's teach our children while they are still young that we can love God and people, but we use things.
For example, in 1973 when the Supreme Court decided abortion is legal in Roe v Wade, the Church's response to Roe v. Wade was characterized as anti-everything…anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, anti-contraception. The Church had a serious public relations problem; moreover it allowed others to set the tone and determine the language for the debate. The prefix 'anti-' was very misleading for the mission of Christ's Church! Re-phrasing the language to pro-life in the 1980s re-framed the arguments and guided people to the Truth. The Church's mission is positive and has a consistent pro-life ethic from conception to natural death. Language plays a crucial role in fostering attitude and behavior shifts.
Now let's look at how language is a tool of tyranny. Language abuse is one of the first steps to tyranny and "words their first victims." (See Hoover.org
) Governments will remove words from the language because words represent ideas…ideas that are considered a threat to the existing powers that be. Thought crime is creeping in faster than you can say "Orwellian" (See Zenit.org
Tyranny misuses language in order to disguise the true agenda which is to control people. A recent example is using the word 'migrant' or 'refugee' instead of illegal immigrant. These words connote very different thoughts and in so doing veil the truth of what is happening on America's southern border. Language is often employed not to convey the truth, but to betray and deceive the public. In Rules for Radicals, Saul Alinsky
wrote, "He who controls the language controls the masses." Keep in mind that one of Alinsky's protégés
was a young Hilary Clinton; and a young Barack Obama was another Alinsky
disciple. Have we forgotten "Of course you can keep your doctor…" (See Politifact.com
or "The Constitution tells us what the federal government cannot do, but it doesn't say what government can do…" (See WND.com
Do not underestimate the power of language. Mao Tse Tung
defiled it when he wrote that words are just more things to manipulate. "We will conquer the world because you fools think that words are labels that are properly or improperly pasted onto things. We know that words are little dynamite sticks in people's minds and we hold the fuse." So lies and deception can be institutionalized. Our government insists the Fort Hood shootings are not terrorist attacks, but 'workplace violence'. (See DailyBeast.com
) In Chinese the same symbol is used for both 'disaster' and 'opportunity'. Hmm… yes indeed words are dynamite sticks. While dynamite can certainly destroy a beautiful edifice, that same dynamite can blow up an abandoned, dilapidated building to create space for erecting a new structure. Opportunity or Disaster?
Let's turn this on its heels. Here is our opportunity: I propose that to begin changing the culture, it is imperative we change the national parlance -- literally. Restore our language, give words their proper meaning, and re-introduce words that have faded from our conversations: conscience, liberty, responsibility, truth, happiness, romance, beauty, marriage, motherhood, fatherhood, Heaven, Hell, virtue.
Here are more examples of how to do this:
Use the word truth instead of tolerance. Tolerance means to 'put up with' or 'endure' something negative. It is not a virtue. Nobody has been canonized for being heroically tolerant.
Form your conscience before your opinions.
Stop confusing license for liberty.
Ache for true interior freedom and do not fall prey to empty licentiousness.
Fulfill our responsibilities before demanding rights.
Be glad to say "I'm Christian" instead of hiding behind "I'm spiritual."
Use the expression 'marital intimacy' or 'marital relations' which more accurately communicates the idea of a life-long marriage covenant instead of 'having sex' which connotes an isolated physical act more appropriately referred to as copulation.
Express a desire for eternal happiness and resist settling for fleeting pleasure.
Yearn for authentic romance, courtship, and marriage. Do not succumb to the nightmare of hookups and hangovers.
Make decisions based on reason and intellect not on fleeting emotions and feelings.
Use the word 'family' to mean a husband, wife, children and extensions thereof, not a collective of unrelated adults who happen to share sexual pleasure and a bank account.
Stop using the word marriage in quotes to indicate what is really a same-sex union. Use the word marriage to mean marriage; same-sex union to mean what it is.
Insist on the words 'mother' and 'father' not a gender-less substitute of 'parent'.
'Diversity' is a euphemism for bias against Western culture especially Christianity. Try 'variety' or fine, use 'multi-culturalism' but be sure that includes Western culture.
Use the word 'love' when you mean it to be self-sacrifice; or 'lust' when you don't.
Ronald Reagan once remarked, "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." As a new school year is about to begin, gather around that table and make your own list of politically incorrect words and phrases -- and start using them -- openly! Here's another list: GodFatherPolitics.c
Let's go, America! I seem to recall we still have a Constitutional right to Freedom of Speech. Stop being a pushover. We will 'blow up' the false language that has been foisted upon us and succeed in re-building our culture of life.
Spero columnist Diane Thunder writes from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.