When words are used to hide the truth

music of angelsSomebody remarked recently that we talk more and more and communicate less and less. The saying of Jesus, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no” (Matthew 5:37) seems forgotten in the torrent of words which people use. Earlier this week I heard a representative of one of the utility companies say on the radio, “We’re working around the proximity of their location”, by which I think he meant, “We’re working close to their homes.” Why do people do it – why do they talk in this convoluted way?

Often it is to obscure meaning, because if they used simple words, people would immediately grasp that something dreadful was going on. Thus we have the “quantitative easing” which means that the Bank of England is printing money: and in the past we’ve been told that that leads to a fatal spiral of inflation. But somehow “quantitative easing” doesn’t sound so awful, if indeed it sounds like anything at all. “Friendly fire” is another one, which means that you’ve killed people on your own side.

Last week a friend who works for a Catholic charity giving advice to women thinking about abortion told me something startling. Some doctors will ask a woman if her pregnancy is ‘wanted’. If the answer is ‘yes’ they then continue speaking about the ‘baby’ which she is carrying. If the answer is ‘no’ then they speak about the ‘foetus’.

This week we’ve heard quite a lot about the abuse of ‘children’. We hardly ever use this word nowadays. It’s ‘kids’ or ‘young people’. Certainly the music and fashion world – “youth culture” – would never use the ‘children’ word, because it wants to project an image of grown-up sophistication for its young customers. ‘Children’ is just not sexy! That is, until these poor ‘kids’ fall into the hands of adults who use and abuse them, and destroy their innocence of youth (what’s left of it) and dump them, probably damaged for life. Then they are children, and apparently they have been ‘let down’ by social workers, police, school …. though we don’t seem to hear much about being let down by parents? Perhaps if we continued to call children ‘children’ until they are ‘adults’ we might be more horrified about how we allow the young to be exploited on a day to day basis long before some dreadful case of abuse hits the headlines.


About Scott Anderson

Formerly an Anglican priest (ordained 1975) received into the Catholic Church in February 2012, and ordained to the Diaconate on 27th July 2013. I took early retirement, and divide my time between London and northern France. I am deeply committed to the Ordinariate as a gift of the Holy Spirit in the search for unity. Like many Ordinariate members I feel a personal gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict, together with loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. My blog tries to make a small contribution to the growth of the Ordinariate by asking questions (and proposing some answers) about the 'Anglican Patrimony'. I have always been fascinated by the whole issue of growth and decline, and therefore concerned for appropriate means of evangelisation in western Europe. I believe that the Holy Spirit is constantly renewing the People of God and that we must be open to him. My love of music and motorcycles will occasionally surface in my posts. On Saturday 19th October 2013, I was ordained to the Priesthood at Most Precious Blood, Borough, by the Most Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, for the service of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. I continued to serve the Ordinariate group and Parish at Most Precious Blood until the end of 2014. Subsequently, I helped in the care of the Ordinariate Groups at Hemel Hempstead and Croydon, and in the Archdiocese of Southwark, until the beginning of September 2015. With the agreement of my Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, the Bishop of Amiens appointed me Administrator of the Parish of Notre Dame des Etangs (Pont Remy) in Picardie, France. This appointment is to last for a year, to give the Bishop the opportunity to assess the future of the parish.
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2 Responses to When words are used to hide the truth

  1. yesimcatholic says:

    Someone linked me to this because I just wrote a post about children and how they suffer from marriage break up – but I also really like the point you make about language. I wrote something similar way back in Easter… http://yesimcatholic.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/language/
    You’re right about calling people ‘children’. Nowadays the term is ‘young adult’ – you get ‘young adult’ literature and ‘young adult movies’, half of which are not suitable for ‘old’ adults anyway!!

  2. also found your evocation of a general culture of abuse helpful.
    Hope you’re thriving — and congrat.s and prayers for your upcoming ordination

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