Keeping The Faith

I’m one of those who keeps the faith with language. I say what I mean and I try to live by what I say, though sometimes it’s hard because the inner voice of truth that comes out when I am speaking or writing is often wiser than I am.

I prefer other people to use correct language too, though I realize that’s an old-fashioned concept.

I just read an article that talked about Trump supporters spreading hate because they were getting in altercations with the protestors. So we’re supposed to believe that only Trumpers hate? That the self-proclaimed Marxist protestors who are burning and looting are doing it out of love? Oh, for cripes sake. Has the world lost its mind?

Words no longer mean what they once did. Peaceful once meant . . . peaceful. Free from disturbance. Tranquil. Not burning and looting, not screaming, not blocking emergency entrances at hospitals and chanting: “We hope they die.”

Words have always been plastic, meaning that they can be easily molded or shaped, not the way the word is now used, meaning something hard and indestructible. It seems words are even more plastic than I realized in this gaslighting era, where what we are told is the exact opposite of what we are seeing. For example, I had the misfortune to watch a television news broadcast the other day. They showed someone saying something, and then immediately afterward the newscaster told us the person had said something completely different.

In many cases, I’m one of last to keep the faith when it comes certain words. I say vegetables instead of . . . gag . . . veggies. I never use the outdated and so very sexist term “co-ed.” I don’t use permuted words like “styling,” whatever that means. (I assume it’s good because the other day someone told me my hat was “stylin.” Though with the plasticity of words nowadays, for all I know it could mean that I was wearing the ugliest hat the young woman had ever seen.)

I especially don’t say “love” when I mean “hate.” And I don’t say “peaceful demonstrations,” when I mean that people are rioting. I don’t say “taking what they need,” “expropriating property,” or “reparations” when I mean stealing. (Looting is stealing. To a person with a passing acquaintance with a dictionary, looting means to steal during a riot, and it’s a crime no matter how many people defend the act.)

It’s possible my adherence to words in their proper form and proper meaning is due to the intransigency of age, but it still doesn’t make the actions hidden in these plastic words palatable to me.

I think it’s time for me to pull in my head and channel my inner turtle for a while.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

On Writing: Coeds with Intestinal Fortitude Eating Veggies

Coed is a term that was born in the nineteen thirties when women enrolled in previously all-male colleges, and it is a term that should have died there. Writers today are careful about not using other sexist terms, but coed is still prevalent. Short for coeducational student, it is demeaning when used as a term for a college woman. It says that men are students, and women merely co-students.

Writers who do not fall into that trap often fall into another, calling a man/woman team, such as police partners, a coed team. Unless it refers to education, it is meaningless. When applied to unisex restrooms, coed might be appropriate, but then, as adults, what can we learn about the opposite sex in a restroom that we don’t already know?

So, do your writing a favor, and can the coed.

Intestinal fortitude is another term that ties my guts into knots. I suppose with all the indigestible food that we eat nowadays, intestinal fortitude could refer to the digestion process and the garbage that goes in one end and the crap that comes out the other, but any other application is ridiculous.

So use plain old fortitude or have the guts to say guts, and leave the overly cute and clichéd intestinal fortitude in the toilet where it belongs.

And don’t get me started on veggies. I will merely say that kiddies might need to be coaxed to eat veggies, but we are adults, and we should eat vegetables and write vegetables.