Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Note: It may appear that what you are reading is a duplicate column, found on both of my websites (Perspectives on Wrestling and Richard Berger’s Point of View). Please be aware that the first three paragraphs are indeed identical. After that, they diverge into separate subjects. I view it as a quick and easy way to get the same point across without re-writing. Others may call it proof of laziness.
Hello to my friends everywhere…
I must apologize. I’ve not been updating both of the websites far longer than I ever would have anticipated. I want to thank those folks that took the time to send e-mail inquiring about the status of my health, both physically and mentally. It’s good to be able to say I’m doing reasonably well (okay, the mental aspects have always been questionable), and I sincerely appreciate the concern people have expressed. In general, things are not bad, and the fact is they could be a whole lot worse. So, there are no complaints from me.
Occasionally, situations of the personal variety will crop up unexpectedly. In some cases, they demand virtually all of one’s attention. Such was the case for yours truly. And while the difficulties appear to be resolved, the circumstances demanded most of my time and all of my patience. Trust me; nobody would have wanted to read anything I might have written during that period.
So, unless the loose ends aren’t secured as well as I’d like to believe they are, these sites will be updated more frequently. And yes, to the few that inquired, I’m still working on the book. An announcement will be made as it comes close to publication, hopefully before year’s end. But for now, let’s move forward.
All societies are complex by their very nature. Depending on what philosophy a government practices, individual expression will be permitted more in some than in others. Still, despite variances in tolerance from country to country, the urge to conform is a human trait. From the most totalitarian and oppressive nations to the more lenient and liberal, the desire to create a society that abides by a certain code of conduct is consistent.
Despite the ominous move towards a police state mentality in the United States' recent past, there still remains a somewhat more open attitude than what is true for many countries. True, at least when it comes to general behavior and how people conduct themselves in public settings. This is at the heart of the point I hope to make. While likely to be considered trivial by many, I believe it to be indicative of how a society perceives itself, both at home and in the world.
I’ve found myself becoming more and more unhappy and discouraged as time passes. The downgrading of human verbal interaction in the North American public has, in my estimation, reached an all-time low. Hearing young and old alike using four-letter-words as a part of general conversation, most of the time unnecessarily so, causes a certain dyspepsia within me.
My reaction is certainly not unique. I’ve observed the distressed facial expressions of people within hearing range of a barrage of foul verbiage, and they mirror mine. No matter what the age of the offender (although it is particularly disheartening when it comes from the very young), it is undeniable proof of a coarseness that is pervasive throughout North America.
Sadly, this form of “verbal violence” has grown unrelentingly. And worst of all, it seems to have been accepted to one degree or another most everywhere. Perhaps it's a case of mass resignation to the ever-growing avalanche of foul language. Still, I'm a cockeyed optimist, and I continue to believe it may yet be halted, or at least minimized.
Now, I absolutely have no problem with hearing or using foul language when it’s appropriate. There are plenty of people that will tell you they’ve been witnesses to a crass diatribe or two (million) springing from these lips. No, I do not disparage the USE of such words, only the MISUSE. To insert powerful and incendiary terms as a matter of course sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, brings about three results:
1. It sends a message that the spouting individual most probably possesses a limited vocabulary and is handicapped by lower-than-average intelligence.
2. It encourages the more impressionable within hearing range to emulate those they may consider cool or tough or more worldly. In which case, they “learn” that this is tolerable behavior.
3. Words uttered infrequently carry more weight than those used commonly. By employing terms that had once been reserved primarily for the rare occasions when they emphasized a point, they now fail to grab the listener's attention. By using profanity in everyday conversations, the very purpose behind it is defeated, with the intended impact greatly reduced.
Plain and simple, I maintain that it is not a respectable form of expression. When the occasion calls for a particularly strong word or image, then fine, you’ll get no argument from me. (The exception would be as it pertains to the time and place involved, which has everything to do with it. As a rule, when children are in the area, it is NEVER appropriate to delve into the blue).
If people truly want respect from others, they would be far better served by talking in a conversational and convincing manner without resorting to vulgarism. Breaking out colorful terminology among friends in a private setting is perfectly reasonable; when talking within earshot of the general public, it is not.
Being an avowed left-leaning person all my life (at least politically), it bothers me just a bit when it comes to laying out rules and regulations on how the populace should behave itself. The freedom to develop our own strengths and discover our own limits as a people begins within the individual. Beyond the basic tenets (i.e. do not kill others with the possible exception of self-defense), I’d much prefer living in a community that adheres to a standard. One that promotes the principle that each and every person may choose his own philosophy of life.
But when it comes to using the English language in public, I maintain that there must be an understanding and an agreed upon accord. It would be one small step towards comprehending ourselves and others, along with strengthening our solidarity as a people. The flagrant misuse of words and their intended meanings only serves to undermine such goals as well as diminishing us as a society..