I hope my title does not rattle you.
In fact, let us put to rest any fear that I am alluding to a new language. Rather, my attention is drawn to a language that already exists. It is my heartfelt conviction that we should not give it any more space to grow.
I have in the past found myself in the difficult position of being a marriage counsellor. I made thorough preparations for the assignment. That is, until the wife told me about the profane words used by the husband in their quarrels. It was not soft language. My initial shock got worse when the husband readily agreed that he has a weakness in that regard. Why, I asked. He claimed that he finds it a successful defence against his wife’s high-pitched voice during the fights.
High-pitched voice vs Foul language
The wife meanwhile sensibly pointed out that the polluted words are very likely to harm the witnesses to their fights, namely, their children. She emphasized that she finds the words filthy, indecorous and plain ungodly. I noted this compelling argument. However, justice still demanded that I should also address the issue of the “high-pitched voice.” I could not encourage the impression that shouting is acceptable. From the very start, I found the wife very cooperative. The husband was more challenging. Nonetheless, surrender was not an option.
After all, a scholar in human development, parent education and family literacy has argued that;
Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods.
I find this a powerful signpost – teach them well when they are young, and they will turn out well in their adult lives. I have a general concern about the vulgar words and language that we so often overhear or come across in our reading. I am especially afraid when I see profanity being treated as the new cool. It is not; it should never be!
Yet some TV shows and the movies which flood our media (and are passed as safe for family viewing) freely use indecent words as if they constitute an evolving language. Elsewhere, I find myself almost helpless as I listen to our urban youth, and especially the so-called entertainers, lacing their communication with the same shameful language.
We need to get back to clean, respectful and Godly language.
I still remember that in my young days, it was not difficult to limit myself to TV shows that were truly family viewing. Age ratings were not misleading. Then high school came; it was almost tricky. I was in a boys’ only class in my first and second years at high school. Films such as Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest became the must-watch menu. I faced an immediate conflict at home. My father was of the view that after the 7:45 pm main news of the day, TV did not have anything else of value. In my other small world, I knew that some of my class mates would devote part of Monday morning to talking about the soap opera which was in season.
Switch it OFF😡
I found myself immersed in a battle against teenage curiosity. After the Sunday night TV news, I would proceed to my bedroom. This would only be long enough to assure myself that my dad had fallen asleep. After that, I would sneak (or steal) back into the lounge; switch on the TV, set it at the lowest volume possible, and sit right next to the set. In the darkness, broken only by the flashes of the TV light, I found out that I could never win. My father’s voice would calmly filter through to the lounge: icitshe ke (switch it off). Crushed, I would go on to sleep, and crushed I would think about the TV reviews in class on Monday.
However, I had the distinct blessing of having brothers in that sometimes-naughty boys’ class who aimed for better goals. One of these was a tightly-knit “I am my brother’s keeper club.” Long after we left school and found ourselves on different routes in latter years, I still derive immense pleasure when I contact them. One of those class mates / brothers is ZM. I mention him because I have this hunch that he introduced me to Abbot and Costello, the American stars whose work on TV made them the most popular comedy duo of all time (amazon.com). I will not investigate this further; suffice to say that Abbot and Costello were great fun.
Fast forward to the present:
I find myself grateful that music which has rude lyrics carries the label of “explicit material.” Sadly, it is not always the case with movies and TV shows. In fact, so-called family viewing must be approached with great caution. Some of our famed writers seem to also think that a book is only appealing if spiced with profanity. We are paying a huge price for freedom of expression.
In a post entitled dropping the –bomb; blogging with naughty words, Darron Rowse (26 January 2008) noted that blogging using cuss words has become a trend for some new bloggers hitting the scene, but I’m wondering, is it really to any avail?
Rowse correctly notes that blogging without cussing gives one’s blog a friendlier, less hostile look…your blog will be appropriate for all ages of your audience (emphasis is mine).
Elsewhere, William B. Bradshaw (27 July 2012) wrote a piece called profanity and grammar: lessons from history. Part of the essay reads as follows:
As I sat in the theatre watching a movie that received seven academy award nominations, I was struck by the unusual amount of profanity – my mind recalled an order issued by General George Washington to his officers during the Revolutionary War.
The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing, heretofore little known in the army, is going into fashion. He hopes the officers, will by example as well as influence, endeavour to check it (emphasis is mine).
Referring to a different experience, Bradshaw recalled being told that university students, including athletes, should develop adequate vocabularies to express their feelings without the use of coarse language…using profanity in public was just in poor taste.
If you compare the above words with the following paragraph, you will see why I suggest that we need to stop the evolving but polluted language.
If you haven’t been hearing the cuss words since you were 6-years old, you aren’t from an English-speaking country, or your father locked you in your basement / room / closet as a child. We have the (cuss words) on the television, movies, plenty of (social media) videos…cuss words are a part of our society.
In boxing, the above paragraph equates to throwing in the towel. It is surrender. I pray that in our schools, small communities, work places and different residential areas, we should never submit to such a viewpoint. It is unhealthy, unhelpful, and indeed, cowardly. God created us to live on far higher levels than this defeatist thinking.
As I set out on my assignment as marriage counsellor, I was determined to keep my mind on the following words:
People ask, “how can a person abuse a child?” I ask, “how can so many good people not do anything about it?”
I am a mama bear. I will love and protect my children, no matter how old they are. God help the person who ever tries to hurt them in any way.
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men (Frederick Douglass).
Nelson Mandela said there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children. History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.
In Mark 9:42, the Bible reminds us that and whomsoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23)