I don’t know if this is true across the world, but in the U.S. we are so conscious of “equality,” that our language is adapting. I’ve been wondering: Which came first: our lack of respect for others or the way we use words? How does one feed or reflect the other?
- Kids call adults by their first name.
In past generations, we were taught to say: Mr, Ms, Miss, Mrs, Aunt, Uncle, Ma’am, Sir. The idea was that children were under the authority of the adult who was present, or at least were to ask for and respect their opinion–so the language made it very clear who was the adult in the room.
- Mr. President or President (Name) is seldom used in our news and social media circles. Politicians, authority figures, police officers, teachers, corporate leaders are open game for name-callers.
Instead, those in authority are referred to by nicknames, spoken in dramatic ways that reveal the opinion of the speaker: The Donald, The Slovenian Sphinx, Amtrak Joe, Little Marco, Five-0, Big Enchilada, Hilla the Hun, Teflon Elon.
These nicknames are not new–this kind of satire has been going on for a long time. It’s where our nursery rhymes came from. But is has crept into the speech of newscasters and commentators, teachers and preachers, all adults disrespecting the office or authority of other adults.
When I wanted my kids to use their best manners at the dinner table (in the late 80’s and early 90’s), I asked to pretend that the president was visiting and eating with us. When I used that line with my grandchildren in the 2000s, it was viewed as a joke or with the questions, “Why would I change how I eat for him?”
Don’t hear what I’m not saying: I am not bemoaning the younger generations. I’m wondering about “respect” for others: How do we (I) show it? Is respect evident in our (my) language? Is respect moving out of our (my) current culture?
Which leads me to my language. I often use the expressions, “Holy Cow!” or “Holy Smoke!” Sometimes it’s crasser: “Holy Crap.” What am I doing to the word “holy” when I do in this way, and, by using these expressions, am I disrespecting my “Holy God?”
What does “Holy” Mean, anyway? The Bible tells us, God’s holiness is his defining characteristi, and it is used in the Bible to describe both his goodness and his power, Holiness is completely unique and utterly all-powerful, radiating from God like an energy. In fact, God’s holiness is so overwhelming that it can actually be dangerous to approach.
Last night I listened to the clearest explanation of word “Holy” that I have ever heard. I watched the video shown below two times through. I didn’t want to miss anything. More on this subject next Monday.