Monday, November 26, 2007
We won't hear a word they say
I would like to start a petition to remove the following words from our vocabulary:
This is an arbitrary word that weakens any argument. It is a word we use to distance ourselves from a person, idea, or thing so that it is easier to hate that thing. For example, child molesters are evil. Now you can hate child molesters. You don't have to empathize with them. You don't have to sympathize for them. You don't have to consider motives or individual circumstances. They are distant, generalized, and evil.
What would happen if we replaced the word evil with a word or phrase that actually means something? Molesting children causes a lot of pain and hurts children in terrible ways. Suddenly it's not distant. We still can see how harmful molesting children is, but we allow ourselves to think about the molester independent of molesting. Maybe the perpetrator is a child himself. Maybe he is a victim himself. Maybe there is something we don't know about him.
This word also weakens any argument. It is a word we use to categorize things that we don't like. It is so specific to personal preference, exposure, and cultural bias, however, that we just can't use it to say that something is bad. For example, I used to hate hamburgers. Growing up, I insisted that ground beef was gross, and I wouldn't eat it. I refused. Homemade or McDonald's didn't matter, it was gross.
I had my first hamburger on my mission, and it was delicious. Ever since I've had to limit my hamburger intake so I don't get fat. What made it suddenly not gross any more? Increased exposure. I tasted it! It helped that my preferences matured and I lived in a society that encourages burger eating. If I had served my mission in India, it might have been a different story.
This is a word that I am as guilty of bastardizing as anyone else. Never. What a final, generalizing, hasty word to use. We should never say never. It implies knowing something that you don't know. We live in a changing world. The conditions that make something so now will eventually change. For example, I'll never be able to understand you. Well, then suddenly I find myself in a similar circumstance. Suddenly I understand. (that was a really unspecific example. sorry).
Clearly these words need to be eliminated from our vocabulary. Who's with me? Let's rid the world of ignorance one word at a time. Cause these aren't the only three. If I can get enough support with these words, then maybe I'll enlarge the blacklist. Before you know it, we'll have our own little censored community where no one gets offended and where all statements are perfectly neutralized. And, hopefully, where no one says anything stupid.