We are in a far greater war than that which is going on in the Middle East. We are in a war of ideas. Some ideas are right and some ideas are wrong, but all ideas have consequences. The consequences of those ideas that are false are far too dangerous to allow happen. Unfortunately, too many of us are sitting on the sidelines.
This isn’t a friendly skirmish. There are real casualties. We cannot think that the forces of Heaven and Hell are giving this a half-hearted effort or just saying, “We’ll fight now, but in the end we’ll all shake hands and be the best of friends.” No. Real people spend eternity somewhere. Who knows what part our actions play in that?
One level we don’t often look at is language. I do believe words are important. Words speak about ideas beyond themselves. When I say the word “God” I mean something more than the letters, G, O, and D pronounced in that order to produce a sound. I mean a concept that I have in mind. (Of course, I do think the concept exists outside of my mind, but by my saying it, I mean God as I see him and not as the Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist does.)
In this war we are in, I believe that whoever controls the language wins. If we can make words mean one thing that they don’t mean, we can make them mean anything. Now I’m sure some shift in languages is inevitable, but we have to watch how our culture takes words and makes them mean the opposite of what they mean or rephrases them.
George Orwell wrote along these lines in his essay, “Politics and the English Language.” One example he gave was euphemisms. Euphemisms or a nice way of saying something that is really bad. Orwell pointed out that the media would not use terms that have negative connotations, but that they would reword those terms in more pleasant language with the same idea behind them and so fool the people.
A modern example is the homosexual movement. I do not use the word “gay.” Why? Because I think gay means one thing and not what the homosexual movement takes it to mean. Homosexual though seemed to have a negative connotation so let’s take a light and happy term. No. I’m not one to want to give them even that much. At the same time, I don’t use words that would be seen as derogatory either. I simply say homosexual.
The same movement is also trying to do this with marriage. Friends. We can’t define marriage. We can only describe it. If marriage is taken to mean anything, then it means essentially nothing. This is the price we play when we try to redefine language. We end up with meaninglessness.
This is also going on in the postmodern movement. Postmodernism has been trying to tell us that words are meaningless. (All the while, using words to do it.) Each person defines what the words mean. This is one reason when I debate, I really like to first sit down and define the terms. I want to be sure I and my opponent mean the exact same thing.
The point? Whoever controls the meaning of words controls everything. The very battle takes place in words and we need to watch ours. We don’t need to be lax with them but use words in a way that will enable us to think.
We can’t afford to lose.