A word is … well … a word

I have often talked about the wonder and power of language on this blog. Language is possibly the greatest creation of life on this world. I say life, because language takes many forms, and not all of them involve words. But that does not take away from the immense potential that languages made of words also offer. Words themselves are amazing things, for they often manage to put the world in perspective with basically just a few sounds.

Ultimately, however, language is a tool. And just like ANY tool, its value is determined by how it is used. Tools are not GOOD or BAD. They are simply tools. But they can be used in good and bad ways. A knife can be used to prepare food; to create art; to heal the wounded. It can also be used to kill. Whether you consider these actions good or bad, it is the one who USES the knife that would be so defined, not the knife itself.

The same can be said of language, whatever form it takes. Ultimately, a word is nothing more than a collection of letters, or even more basically, a collection of sounds that are related to an object or an idea. A word can neither be good or bad. it is just a word. What it represent may be good or bad. How it is used may be good or bad, but the word itself is no different from the knife. A tool that is being used for a purpose.

Yet in humanity’s never-ending but misguided pursuit of removing themselves from personal responsibility, we often hold the TOOLS responsible for the way we use them. This conveniently takes the blame away from US. And then we do our best to remove those offensive tools, so that we can further hide from our own responsibilities, not worrying how many difficulties we may be creating by preventing those who use tools correctly from using them. This is never more frustrating than when we start blaming something as benign as a word for poor behavior.

A WORD is just a word. And a word is just a WORD. There is no evil in a bunch of letters. The letters may refer to a bad idea. The letters may be used in anger and for bad purposes. But the plain and simple truth is … the word is just a word. ANY word can be used malevolently. And ANY word can be made to refer to something bad. But they also can be used positively. They can also be used to represent good. It all depends on two things … the intent of the user, and the attitude of the one receiving it. We need to stop blaming the WORD for how we use it, or how we REACT to it and look to ourselves for our own behavior. We need to stop blaming language for our own misbehavior. Anger, hatred and fear cause words to be used in a negative manner. Love, friendship, and tolerance can make them tools for good. The word itself does neither!

Want an example?

What the fuck? — an expression of surprise. Nothing more. … NOT BAD.

Fuck you! — and expression of anger. … BAD.

Fuck … a word that is often associated with sex, neither bad nor good unless we choose it to be one or the other. And that depends entirely on our attitudes and how we USE it.

Stop blaming the tools! Take responsibility folks!