“Words Have Meaning!”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
We all need to communicate with others. There are fundamental rules assumed in communication. There are rules of logic and the meaning of words.
There are three “Laws” of Thought and Communication/ Logic and Reasoning:
1. The first is the Law of Identity. The following formula is helpful in explaining it:
o If A is A it cannot also be Non-A
2. The second law is the Law of Non-contradiction. The explanatory formula for this law is:
o If A = B, then A does not equal B is excluded.
3. The third law is the Law of the Excluded Middle. It concerns true or false statements:
o True or false is absolute. There can be no Middle (something between true or false for the same thing)
Regardless of whether we know these laws that guide thought, communication and reasoning, they are applied in everything we say, write, read or hear. For example, we know that a car is not a non-car or even a bicycle. Likewise, it is also clear that if a car is the same as a vehicle; it cannot be said that a car is not a vehicle. If it is said that a car is a vehicle and this is a true statement. It cannot also be said of that statement that it is neither true nor false, but something else!
This crude example of logic proceeds from the first rule of communication. The second rule is that words have meaning. We rely upon dictionaries to define the meaning of words and we also take those universal meanings and use the word in a certain context. You may be familiar with the saying, “Text without context is pretext.” Generally, words have a range of meaning. The exact meaning of a word in any given instance depends upon the context in which it is used.
Currently in our culture, there is a disturbing thing that often occurs in communication. For example, we are subjected to words being used to describe men based upon their office. The word “honorable” is often used to describe a man based upon his appearance, office or profession. Now, one’s dress may reflect an effort to show honor. An office may also be described as being honorable. Even one’s profession may be described as honorable. But, appearance, office or profession do not also describe the person who may hold the office or profession.
Wicked or despicable persons may dress honorably; hold an honorable office, or work in an honorable profession. But before defining them as honorable, their behavior, past and present, should be considered.
The example, “honorable” is defined in Webster’s Dictionary. “It is characterized by [a person of] integrity, [who is] guided by a high sense of honor and duty… having or showing honesty and good moral character.” Another source, the American Heritage Dictionary, defines “honorable” as [a person] “deserving or winning honor and respect.” Both definitions are reflective of an individual’s behavior, both past and present.
With the application of these two rules of communication consistently applied, we are able to discern truth from error; facts from innuendo. Just so my communication is clear, innuendos are inferences that a person’s actions are either immoral or improper. As such, innuendos are inferences that lack specific evidence. They are usually based upon feelings about a person or gross assumptions surrounding a person’s life style, wealth or abilities without any empirical evidence.
Recent actions taken by certain governmental officials, as they have been reported, bear reflection. “Honorable” men are reportedly using their positions and professions to advance personal agendas to remove our duly elected President from office. Or, they seek to remove any possibility of his effectiveness because of their personal dislike of him.
I am a Pastor by God’s internal call and the Church’s external affirmation of His call. Yet, I am also a citizen of the United States of America and very proud of my citizenship. I thank God every day that I am able to live in a country that freely allows me to worship God and preach and teach His word. I have listened intently over the past several weeks of the reported actions of our governmental leaders in Washington, D.C.
So-called honorable men, have chosen to ignore the illegal activities of some officials while searching for some perceived crime committed by others. Words do matter. May we all develop our listening skills so as to discern truth from error.