Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Deplorable Word

Several years ago I went to college. I didn't get the chance to go as a young adult. My father passed away when I was 18, and I went to work to help support my mother. So, when my husband went back to school a few years ago to finish his degree, I went with him.

I lasted for one semester.

Not because I wasn't willing to work, or because it was too hard. I quit because my grown-up self who grew up in the most liberal place in the country, couldn't hack sitting in class with a bunch of teenagers who had never lived outside the state of Utah, who thought they knew everything about the world. I was already aware, and had made my peace with, three separate truths - the world is an unjust place, but we do what we can where we can; America is privileged and the rest of the world thinks we're arrogant (well, yeah. Duh. We have reason to be, obviously everyone else want to live here, too, or we wouldn't have the immigration problems we do!); and third, there are a wide variety of lifestyles in this world, and it's okay if they don't all agree, as long as they are courteous and respectful to each other.

When the teacher brought in a transvestite as a guest, I was done. It was too much like a freak show: "Look class, here's a wild gay person in their natural habitat. Let's take a closer look!" I may not like that particular lifestyle, but there's really no need to parade someone around in front of a bunch of sheltered teenage know-it-alls in the name of expanding their horizons.

The final straw was a class reading assignment of a book titled, "The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why". It may have been the most painful thing I have ever read. Not because it was badly written, or incorrect. It was the topic itself that was far too excruciating.

(For those of you lucky enough to not know what 'the N word' is -  it's a racial insult, a slang term based off the Spanish word for 'black'. This book is an in-depth study of the origin, use, and real meaning behind the word.)

In class one afternoon, a discussion took place regarding a movement to have the word removed from the dictionary. When I dared to voice that I saw no need for it to be there in the first place, I became the enemy of all enlightenment - the old fogey prude who promotes censorship akin to Big Brother. When one of the young men at the next table piped up, "well, why is the F word IN the dictionary?" to prove his point, I could honestly say I remember when it wasn't because it was considered to vulgar for decent speech.

All this makes me wonder.

In C. S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, a world was destroyed because one person spoke a word so heinous and awful that the fabric of the universe could not stand it's utter depravity. It was called The Deplorable Word. When the hero stepped into that world, many years later, it remained a scene of complete devastation and ruin.

"Look well on that which no eyes will ever see again," said the Queen. "Such was Charn, that great city..., the wonder of the world, perhaps of all worlds.... I have stood here when the roar of battle went up from every street and the river of Charn ran red," She paused and added, "All in one moment one woman blotted it out forever."

"Who?" said Digory in a faint voice; but he had already guessed the answer. 

"I," said the Queen. "I, Jadis, the last Queen, but the Queen of the World... I spoke the Deplorale Word. A momen later I was the only living thing beneath the sun."

I'm afraid for us. How close are we when the worst of words, with the foulest of meanings, is in every day use all over the internet, in schools, in movies, and in the song lyrics on the most popular songs on the radio.

If we allow filthy words with heinous meanings to be freely used, tolerated and considered mainstream, how long before we find our own Deplorable Word?

I may not be Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandella, or Thomas S. Monson, but my heart is good, my will is strong, and God has given me a way with words. That talent may make a difference, even a small one, for the better.  As it says in the scriptures, those with a desire to serve are called to the work. We as LDS and Christian writers all have more than enough desire, so consider yourself called.

Fight the Deplorable Words of this world! Flood the world with words of goodness, words of value, words of worth - valiant in their meaning, uplifting to those that read them.

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