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  • Ron Davidson

Back in the day, I never heard my parents or grandparents swear, or did I? by Tina Y. Gerber

Swearing is most likely as old as the human race. I am sure many of us would not swear in front of our boss, or better yet, our Grandparents. Can you imagine entering a restaurant, and the employee says, “How can I ‘bleep’ help you today?”

I understand in high-stress situations, some people feel cursing is inevitable, and once in a while, it shows the frustration and/or pain they may be experiencing. A lack of filter might be an indication of a lack of presence of mind.

One may say it has the advantage of effectively communicating how they feel at the moment, when emotionally responding. But is emotionally responding the healthy way to go? We’ve all had the experience, where the frustrated person ahead, cuts us off. We can try to justify this type of cussing as possibly healthy, if used as an outlet which avoids physical violence.

I remember the first time I acted this way at work. Everyone’s jaw dropped open, as they looked at me. Some used the moment to support the justification of their own abrasive behaviour in their own lives and so congratulated me, while others said compassionately, you must be really upset.

My husband, who is the sweetest guy I know, didn’t use expletives for the first four years of our marriage. The first time I heard my Dad do it, I was 25. I couldn’t believe my ears and told him so. We had a conversation, and he said, “I think you’re old enough to hear your old man swear.” He was trying to illustrate this will happen in life, he wasn’t trying to defend it as a good or healthy thing to do.

In front of my daughters, I didn’t swear, stating, “With the thousands of words in the English language, I am sure you can pick other words to express yourself.” My daughter, today, does swear a bit but always says, “Sorry, Mom,” with a laugh. I continue to remind her, she has a “potty mouth!”

Where, in some environments, this language was the norm, I never got used to it. I heard quote once, it goes, “Swearing is the last bastion of an undeveloped mind.” Personally, I find this type of behaviour offensive, I still feel it’s rude and bad manners, but it’s more than that as well.

I had a co-worker who would constantly swear, especially in front of the residents, which was frowned upon, of course. When we worked together I reminded her to watch her words. She told me she swore because it was the only way she knew to let out her aggression and it helped her to deal with the daily struggles and stress of her life. For her, this behaviour seemed to be a safe release, and made a difference in her not being so aggressive. Of course this neglects how it effects the emotional climate of others.

In the book of Ephesians 4:29 the Bible says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When we talked further about it, my co-worker would say, “Well, I hear you say, “darn it,” or “fiddlesticks,” and you are just replacing one word for another word.” I understand swearing; for many, is just another way of expressing emotions and a way to vent.

There may be some truth in what she said, but I still dislike how common swearing and vulgar language has become in certain everyday conversations.

I realize there may be varying degrees of this kind of venting which blur the line between what is unhealthy and what is a controlled expression. If it truly is about an effort to cope with inner building stress, than, there are other inner disciplines we can learn to minimize and even eliminate expressions which add stress to those around.

Some may say, it’s not the word(s) themselves which bother me but rather their intention or representation. It seems to me, every generation prefers to use %$!$ words because they like to shock, rather than show respect for themselves and others.

We have air, water, and land pollution. We have to deal with site pollution with all the signs in crowded areas, so much so, we have rules to govern the posting of signage. I suppose it’s also up to us how we respond to expletives and if we choose to tolerate this behaviour.

Some would say, a cleverly placed swear word can be amusing in a funny situation, but many who swear a blue streak are not recognizing it’s unhealthy influence. It does effect the thought and emotional lives of those around. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Col 4:6 ESV

#column #tinaygerber

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