My dad came home from his job at the chemical plant and showed us his car. During the day, the plant had expelled some kind of pollutant into the atmosphere and it landed on all the cars surrounding the plant. The corrosive material that came out of the smokestacks had pitted the paint jobs of every single car.
It was the 1960’s and this was an example of why the Environmental Protection Agency was developed. But even though that type of pollution has decreased significantly, there is another kind of pollution that is affecting our society, even our world. These pollutants flow freely throughout much of the “civilized” countries and their toxic effects are destroying us from the inside out. I am speaking of the pollution that is expelled from our mouths.
When I was in high school I developed a bad habit of swearing. I didn’t think it was that bad. It was how I fit in to a crowd without stooping to going out and drinking on the weekends. In college, I continued the habit and could even pull together a string of swear words that sounded almost poetic.
Just about my sophomore year at WVU, my roommate really got my attention. I had always considered him really rough around the edges. So when he said what he did it cut like a knife. It was one of those defining moments in my journey of cleaning up my act. He said, “Wib you swear all the time. I’m embarrassed to be around you sometimes.”
Wow. I could hardly believe my ears. It was time to cut that kind of talk totally out of my verbal repertoire. It took me several months, but I began to find it harder to force the wind through my lips to say the words that once flowed so readily. Now, almost impossible.
I suppose that is why the language I hear today makes me cringe so much. The guy sitting beside me in the airport, in his 40’s, is using every word in the book. He is talking to his wife on his cell phone like no one else is in the room. The words have no honor or respect in them. I wondered to myself if he was going to go home and kiss her with that same mouth.
The words I hear on the TV today are words that some towns still have laws against using in public. Teens use the words in everyday conversations regardless of where they are or who they are around. They seem to care little of their offensive nature. God’s name is used in vain as easily as the pollution poured into the rivers during the 50’s & 60’s. I find myself just shaking my head and wondering, “what is next.”
Nothing detracts from a lady’s beauty as what comes out of her mouth. Nothing dishonors a man as the careless use of the English language. I even have issues with some euphemisms that have now become common expressions, most of which begin with f_____. I believe that what comes out of our mouths often reflects what is in our hearts. I wonder what our language says about the hearts today?
Some would say I am just getting old. I say, I came from a time when modesty and appropriateness were more readily understood and practiced. If you swore, you chose the time and place carefully. It was usually reserved for your peers and never thrown around like candy at a parade. I remember someone telling me that the use of foul language was lazy and a declaration of one’s lack of intelligence. I am deciding that the person’s words were very wise. Meanwhile, I walk through restaurants, airports, movie theaters, and grocery stores, cringing; hoping that someone gets the message I did in college. Then maybe, they won’t have to cringe like I do when they get as old I as I am. Give a Hoot! Don’t Pollute! Stop the pollution one mouth at a time.