Words Matter

Member Group : From the Kitchen Table

A stand-up comedian once did an act that talked about how important it is to use the correct words when we speak. He gave a few examples to illustrate his point. The most dramatic involved the synonymous phrases, "I’m sorry," and "I apologize", if spoken at a funeral.

He was being funny, but mis-used words are hurting America.

Let’s start with the word, "family". The definition of family is a group of people who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption. The definition is as old as humanity. Yet we now are told that our schools are families, our churches are families, and our businesses are families. The obvious question is how these folks are related by blood, marriage or adoption, and the obvious answer is that they are not.

By calling every group a family, we dilute the actual meaning of the word. That means that real families, the ones related by blood or marriage or adoption, are no longer considered unique and special.

So at a time when we most need the permanence and stability of the traditional family in America, we have effectively redefined the word, and therefore the institution, to mean any group of people who have come together for some purpose and who can enter or exit the group at any time.

The next word is "community". This one is not used enough.

Community is the group of people who come together with a common purpose. We can join a community if we embrace the purpose, no matter where we came from. Our schools and churches and businesses are communities.

So is America. This nation is, or was created to be, a community of people who shared a heritage and a future. The heritage began with the understanding that each of us is endowed with rights by a Creator beyond the government and therefore was to be accorded the opportunity to achieve. The future grew from that understanding, as each member of the American community acted on the opportunity in our heritage, and worked to achieve his dreams.

When we lost the word community, we lost the shared purpose that the word embodied. And now we are watching America disintegrate into ever-smaller sets of disparate groups, all fighting with each other over perceived inequities or insults.

This situation brings us to the last word, "discrimination". It means the unjust treatment of someone. Period.

But today, it is only "discrimination" if certain groups or individuals are on the receiving end of the behavior. And the government is the arbiter of the decision.
Two true examples illustrate the point.

A conservative government official took his wife and young children to a restaurant for dinner. He was sitting quietly at the table with his family when the owner of the restaurant, who did not agree with the official’s politics, loudly and publicly insisted that the family leave the establishment. The owner declared that the establishment was his property, and he had the right to decide who could use his services.

A woman tried to hire a professional photographer for her lesbian wedding ceremony in a state where same-sex marriage is illegal. The photographer declined, saying that providing such a service would conflict with the religious beliefs of the owners of the company, and the owners had the right to decide who could use their services.

In both cases, property owners asserted that they had the right to direct how their property was to be used. Yet one case was determined to be discrimination and one was not, based on the beliefs of the parties involved. Now THAT is discrimination.

Family. Community. Discrimination. They are just words. And they matter.