Words Mean Something


   News flash: We Think in Words.  So if people do not understand the difference between (or among) different words, they do not understand many nuances or even concepts.  For example, there are many dialects in the languages of the world that do not make a distinction between the word “stranger” and the word “enemy.”  So if some unknown person were to stumble into a small village of people who did not understand that distinction, the stranger would automatically be their enemy.  Imagine how much needless violence, or at least how many lost opportunities, has been caused simply by that reality.  Over the years, I have found similar problems for people saying they advocate “legalizing” marijuana.  I don’t favor that, because if you think of a legalized drug, think aspirin.  Your 12 year-old daughter could buy a case of it at any pharmacy if she so chose.  No restrictions on advertising, price, licensing or age of the buyer.  So the connotation of legalizing a substance is that you don’t care if my children get hooked.  But if you were to ask the question, “Would you like to strictly regulate and control for adults marijuana like wine?” the answer is increasingly Yes.  It’s all in the nuances of the words, and it is also more accurate.

So when we are fighting for and supporting Liberty, and otherwise living our lives, remember that your choice of words frequently matters.  For example, once as a student when I had a summer job copying drawings and plans for a civil engineering company (We called ourselves “Reproduction Engineers.”), I asked my counterpart if we should use the “old” paper for a particular job for an engineer who was standing right there with us.  At that point the engineer got upset with me, saying this was an important project for a big client, and we should not use old paper.  My counterpart quickly assured him that I was just asking if we should continue our practice of rotating our stock by using the paper we received last week instead of today.  So the engineer was mollified, and I learned a lesson.  In a similar vein, many current politicians have learned that instead of seeking a “compromise” with other politicians, which people interpret to mean not standing up for their values, they try to “find common ground” instead.  The intentions and results are the same, but they won’t get criticized for trying to work things out.  Final example: I was raised that when I did something nice for someone else and they thanked me for it, I simply was to say “You’re welcome.”  But today many of our young people instead say “No problem,” which implies that if it had been a problem they wouldn’t have done it.  Of course, I understand that in Spanish the phrase is “de nada,” which literally means “It was nothing.”  But please join our budding movement to bring back “you’re welcome” into our young people’s vernacular.  Why?  Because words mean something.

** Here’s another of the daily posts from the gasoline station in Gauteng, South Africa: “When you forgive, you heal. When you let go, you grow.”

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President