e X a l t e r . N e t   —   Askew On Words
The Richness of Words: Abuse Them Not, But Cherish Their Meaning  



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Considering how complex, deep and nuance-rich our English language is, we sure treat it shabbily.

This casualness extends beyond the crudeness of our growing penchant for vulgarities and street-dumb slang. We don't respect the absolute terms such as unique and truth, confuse freedom for anarchy and even allow the mundance to be considered awesome.

Allow me to expand on the above for a moment.

The absolute. It is not uncommon to hear things referred to as "rather unique." I must confess to being guilty of this abuse: either something is uniquely "one of a kind" or "in a class by itself" or "nothing else like it" unique or — you must otherwise confess — it isn't unique at all. Unique is like pregnant: either you are or you aren't.

More insidious is how our current culture is turning the concept of truth into something relative by making it utterly personal. I will grant that a careful assemblage of different facts can lead to different conclusions. But who said facts necessarily or always lead to truth? Mastery of the art of deception usually involves careful application of fact amidst the underpinning of intended falsehood. Truth, when appreciated as an absolute (as it should be) never can be subjected to such compromise. The ultimate source of all truth, after all, is God Himself, and He is incapable of deceiving.

What is truly awesome? Speaking of God, we must be reminded that only He can make us fall prostrate, of our own will, in utter awe of His mere presence. To the extent that such a sense of "awe" is also absolute then, likewise, only God can be "awesome." A cool-looking car or sexy outfit cannot invoke awe (lust, perhaps, but not awe).

Freedom to undervalue. And whatever have we done to our appreciation of the concept of freedom? We use it, even post 9/11, as the license to "do whatever we want." That is not freedom. Applied that way in a personal sense is, as I just implied, little more than license (as in licentiousness). At a more corporate or social level, it borders on anarchy. Anyone who has ever experienced anarchy would never confuse it with freedom.

The term, as it originates in Biblical application and at the hands of our founding fathers when applied to governance, is much richer and deeper. When God granted humanity free will, it had its boundaries, being yet under the sovereignty of God and His plan for His special creation. Free to disobey, yes, but not without consequence. Otherwise, He would not be acting as a loving, correcting Father ... much less a divine one. We also are forever incapable of overriding His providence just because we have a measure of free will to ignore and disrespect.

Freedom, governance and responsibility. This is made distinctively clear in the distinguishing aspects of governance that were devised by our country's founding fathers. When a society is governed by the rule of man, whoever is in power enforces by his very whim. His subjects become slaves to his emotions, pride,vices and veangefulness. There is no responsibility for our actions because there is no personal freedom to act on our own under the weight of a tyrant's rule. But as introduced in our Declaration and detailed under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the United States of America established governance by the Rule of Law.

This is important for many reasons. For one, whoever is in charge is beholden to honor the Rule of Law and lead within its boundaries. Because he is not given license to tyranny, the populace assumes a freedom to act likewise under the same Rule of Law. Knowing it grants each one of us discretion and, perhaps more importantly, aassumes the we understand the responsibility that accompanies freedom. We are granted a latitudečnot unlike the free will granted under God's relationship with his Creationčto act without needing permission for every decision or await specific instruction from our superior.

Governance by Rule of Law presupposes that the populace appreciates and accepts the resonsibility of operating freely within the bounds of the same law that the leadership is bound by. It is a freedom and a governance that is rare and truly special in the history of mankind. To depreciate it by confusing it with personal license and corporate anarchy is to risk undermining its very foundation. A foundation designed to honor that which makes us special as human beings and to protect us from the vulnerabilities that present themselves when we dare to grant any peer a position of power.

Too special to neglect their value. All of the above-referenced key words are among the few, special concepts that we as a society cannot afford to lose an active appreciation of. It bodes more than choosing at what level we wish to communicate. Our ability to protect ourselves from ourselves requires that we never forget the value such words are intended to mean to all of us.

POSTED: 05.05.06
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