Raising Good Kids in an Evil World: Part 2–How Words Matter

Raising Good Kids in an Evil World: Part 2–How Words Matter October 18, 2023

Do you hear me
Do you care

Do you hear me
Do you care
My lips are moving and the sound’s coming out
The words are audible but I have my doubts
That you realize what has been said
You look at me as if you’re in a daze
It’s like the feeling at the end of the page
When you realize you don’t know what you just read. . .
Media overload bombarding you with action
It’s getting near impossible to cause distraction
Someone answer me before I pull out the plug
What are words for when no one listens anymore
What are words for when no one listens
What are words for when no one listens it’s no use talking at all
“Words” Missing Persons—1982


That song about how words matter came out over 40 years ago, before there were such things as the Internet or cell phones.  Needless to say, things have gotten much worse since then.


In Part 1, we discussed the paradox of technology that to be totally connected in the 21st century is to be oblivious to the real world.


Here’s another paradox.


We have more ways to communicate instantly than we ever have before. Nevertheless, we are losing the ability to effectively communicate day by day.


In 1984, George Orwell painted a picture of government control via the progressive destruction of the English language. By instituting Newspeak as the official language, vocabulary was systematically broken down to its most basic elements. With each new edition the Newspeak dictionary became smaller and smaller.


Today, instead of 1984, we have The Emoji Movie. The philosophy (if you can call it that) of this cinematic abomination is summed up in one character’s quote…


Scene from the Emoji Movie. "Words aren't cool."
Cool or not, I have no words. (yarn.io)

Consider the implications of this statement for a moment.


Words are an expression of thoughts. The more profound the thought, the more words it takes to convey it. As a writer, I am keenly aware of this.


Sending emojis by text instead of speaking face to face, or heaven forbid, writing a letter, dilutes meaningful communication in a manner similar to Newspeak. Instead of connecting with another human’s mind through verbal communication, the goal now seems to be to get your point across (if you have one) with as little effort in as little space as possible. Now I’m all for efficiency, in communication as well as other things, but this is going overboard.


You don’t have to write a book when a sentence will do, but you do need to be able to write a sentence when a sentence is needed. If a person can’t even write a coherent sentence, how would they expect anyone with intelligence to take them seriously?


There’s room here for a lengthy rant about spelling and grammar, but that’s not where I’m going with this (not today anyway). My concern is more about words themselves.


Because if words aren’t cool, then thoughts don´t matter either.


Think about that for a second. Two of my main goals in life are to encourage people to discover the foundation of their beliefs and to train our youth in critical thinking and discipleship. Both require deep reflection and an ability to communicate. Erosion of language makes both endeavors impossible.


When I am around teenagers that suffer from depression, or even regular-sized doses of teenage angst, the common thread I hear from them is that they want to be heard. They feel that they are misunderstood and/or no one listens to them. I have found this is something that is common from generation to generation.


What’s different today is that these kids who want to be heard have a hard time expressing themselves in a meaningful way. And that’s assuming that anyone is even listening to them in the first place.


How do we overcome this and raise up a generation that not only knows how to think but how to express that thought proficiently?


Don’t wait for the government school system to do its job.


They have already done away with textbooks and given the kids tablets, laptops, and YouTubes, so the kids can entertain themselves while the teacher plays solitaire or takes a nap. And the teachers who do want to teach can´t because the State has determined that teachers must teach to the standardized testing so that their school districts can continue to receive funding from the government to continue the cycle of failing our students.


My son teaches middle school English in Tennessee. Between the onerous burden of standardized testing and the continual threat of interference, and even lawsuits, from hyperKarenized parents, he can´t even use books in his classroom.


Any books. At all. In an eighth grade English class. Because words aren´t cool.


Stack of Banned Books
Sometimes the gubmint thinks certain words aren’t cool. (Anirvam/flickr)

The thing is, every time we put down our toys and pick up a book, we remember the pleasure that comes from reading, when our brain cells fire up and engage. Some of us enjoy it more than others, of course, but it’s a vastly different feeling from the law-of-diminishing-dopamine that comes from being glued to a video screen.


And how much more refreshing is it when we read scripture?


We were wired to respond to the Word, because as John explained at the beginning of his gospel, the Word is God. David wrote in Psalm 19:


The Law of the Lord is perfect, giving new strength to the soul. The Law He has made known is sure, making the child-like wise. The Laws of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The Word of the Lord is pure, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The Lord is always true and right in how He judges. The Word of the Lord is worth more than gold, even more than much fine gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey straight from the comb. And by them Your servant is told to be careful. In obeying them there is great reward. (Psalm 19: 7-11 NLV)


This is what it sounds like to be undistracted. A tall order in today’s society, but possible.


We have God’s Word, though, always available to us. It doesn’t change, and it’s written on a page, so that if we need to hear something again (and we all do), it’s right there for us. All the answers we need, even if we aren’t sure what the question is that we want to ask. This is the user’s manual for life.


But no one, kids or adults, can find answers if they won’t look for them. No one will ever know what the Word has for them if words aren’t cool.


For parents to win this battle though, we must move past words to action. Come back for the conclusion.  Make sure to click on the Free Newsletter link so that you don’t miss it!


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