Where I grew up, parents would be absolutely mortified if they ever heard one of their kids using the ‘F-word’. My mom would have washed my mouth out with soap, grounded me for a month and insisted that Dad deal with me, had she heard me using it. That would have involved the razor strap. (He never really used it on us kids physically, but he was a master of using it to strike fear into our hearts, so that we would fall in line.)
Most of the kids I knew didn’t use that word much at all. And almost nobody said it in front of a girl. I would personally have been embarrassed to do so. I don’t think I ever did, actually. Does that surprise you? Are you proud of your generation that you use it like it’s your best friend? Do you suppose your familiarity with it’s use in normal discourse makes you somehow more ‘with it’, or cool?
Today girls let it fly not only in conversations with girlfriends, but put it on their facebook posts for all the world to see. It’s sad. It’s beyond sad, really. And it needs to stop. And I’m not just talking about that one word. I’m talking about the kind of behavoir that has little respect for anyone or anything, and that might just be coming from a kind of self-loathing that can’t really find a satisfactory outlet.
Did your Mom ever wash your mouth out with soap? Maybe she should have. Maybe the Mom you drew in the parent lottery wasn’t so good at teaching moral behavior and decency. But grow up, girlie girl. Want your rights? You’ll get a lot more bees with honey than with vinegar, mine taught me. Why not try a different approach?
Why not try kindness? Why not try modesty? Women in my generation knew that being demure gave them a lot of power, especially over men. They didn’t put them down, or overpower them, but they got them to behave. Demure women taught men that they were of great worth, and that they valued themselves and their virtue too highly to let men have their way with them. They set the ground rules, and men quickly learned to abide by them or leave. Men learned that they were wife material. The rest were nice to hang out with and maybe ‘get lucky’ with, but who would want to marry a girl like that?
Why not try love? Love is so misunderstood by every generation after mine, it seems. Are you a child of the 80’s? Were you part of the ‘free love’ and ‘make love, not war’ generation? For the most part, of course, it wasn’t love they were talking about at all – it was sex. They wanted to MAKE love, but that was just code for having sex. And it was just the beginning of a tsunami of change in the moral fiber of our nation and culture. It is not producing good fruit.
The Greeks had several different words for love. The one far too few of us are fluent in is the one they called agape (agápē). It has to do with love that is selfless. If you love someone without needing to get something from them in return, it may be agape. Agape love is not so much a warm fuzzy feeling, as it is actually caring what’s best for another person. It’s the kind of love that, as the Bible puts it, “…never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the wrongs of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.”
Those who practice that kind of love toward others eventually find that many of them start to feel genuine love and affection in return. That’s the kind of free love that seems in such short supply these days.
So from this septuagenarian to my younger friends, family members and the world in general, please, for the sake of all that is good and pleasant and noble and right, clean up your act, won’t you? We will feel more kindly toward you, and you will stop heaping scorn on your own heads.