There is probably nothing considered more mundane, but in reality more dangerous, than the study of words and how we use them.
As any gun rights advocate would remind us; “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people”.
The same is true of words; words don’t deceive, offend, attack or infuriate; people do.
Technically, this is possibly true. Words and guns don’t hurt people – it is people who use those words and guns that hurt people.
As I said above, it is true; preposterous but true.
A gun in a holster, or even better, in a gun-safe, or even in the hands of someone qualified and authorized to use it, should not be a threat to anyone.
Words kept in a dictionary won’t hurt anyone either.
But that’s not why guns – and words – were developed.
Weapons (and tools of all sorts) and words were developed to use.
And we expect every tool to be used responsibly and appropriately.
Every tool (or word or weapon) can be used clumsily, carelessly or dangerously.
Who of us, for example, has not used words to injure or destroy?
Sometimes, perhaps even more often, deliberately.
Words can kill – and inspire to kill – far more than any individual weapon.
It is not, as the gun advocates tell us, the gun (or word) that kills, it is the person.
The deranged, evil or enraged person with the gun may use it, but the gun itself is innocent.
Just as words are innocent.
And, just as in my opening quote (one of the most commonly misquoted verses of the Bible), money is innocent.
It is not money that is the root of evil; it is our love of money that is the root of ‘all kinds of evil’.
It is one of the many ironies of human history that we pass laws regarding the use of weapons, money, drugs and yes, words when the real problem is none of those things. Every weapon, gun, drug or word is perfectly safe.
It is those pesky humans, with their love or passion, that make everything dangerous.
Footnote: For the grammar nerds out there, ‘of money’ is a prepositional phrase that acts as an adjective to modify the subject. The word ‘love’ (not ‘money’) is the subject of that sentence.
I am not distorting or misinterpreting that familiar verse; those who say ‘money is the root of all evil’ are.
Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blog and for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.