Friday, April 24, 2009

I grew up in what could be described as a "dysfunctional" home. Mine was a home filled with vulgarity. I was regularly degraded and spoken of and to in profane terms. The old cliche' "cuss like a sailor" was an appropriate description of the lanugage used by my parents. I remember as a child being keenly aware of the difference in the language used at my home and the language I heard at school and other places. Someone once told me that language revealed character. How true those words have become.

Sadly, dysfunction has become commonplace in our culture. Just how common has become all too apparent in the recent flap over the response of a Miss USA contestant to a question concerning her opinion on homosexual marriage. The questioner (himself a homosexual) did not like her response and proceeded to let the world know in no uncertain terms what his opinion was.

His language, and the language of many who both agree and disagree with her opinion, has been vulgar, demeaning, and revealing. One's stand on homosexual marriage notwithstanding, the language used reveals just how dysfunctional our culture has become. The words used to condemn this young woman reveal the sad fact that we no longer know how to disagree respectfully or how to voice that disagreement in a mature way. We seem to have forgotten civility and respect, as modern entertainment and politics so powerfully demonstrate. Our culture has descended into a "loudest voice wins" approach to settling disagreements.

It seems to me that in all the clamor for "respect" and "rights" what we are really calling for is privileged status for our own opinions at the expense of those who disagree with us. The problems with this line of reasoning are legion and the topic for another day. Suffice it to say that opinion is formed by interpretation of truth and the modern abandonment of absolute truth leaves all jockeying for the ears of our audience. Our audience, itself with no binding definition of truth, grants an audience to those who can capture and hold their attention for more that a second or two. Hence the rising volume and low levels of civility in today's so-called "debate."

I find it fascinating that a beauty pageant, excuse me, a "scholarship contest" (no offense intended...just poking a little fun!) could be so culturally illuminating.

Until next time....

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