Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The H-word

I know a few parents who do not allow the "H-word" in their homes. Their children might not like something, but they certainly don't hate it. These parents have explained to me that the world is too full of hatred. They want their children to use positive and accurate language. Isn't hate rather strong to describe one's feelings about peppers on pizza?

I agree that the way we use "hate" is hyperbole in most situations. I would argue, though, that the way we use "love" is usually hyperbolic, too. I love my husband, rainstorms, and playing soccer. So I think avoiding the word hate because it's inaccurate is probably not useful, unless you plan on striking all hyperbole and many figures of speech from your home.

What about positive language, though? Isn't it a good thing to ban words like hate and stupid? Not necessarily. There is a big difference between hating a person and hating a situation or characteristic. I think it is completely appropriate for a child to say, "I hate it when Suzie bullies other kids." That type of behavior is abhorrent. I think banning negative language makes it more difficult to teach morals. It seems that any behavior choice would either be good or not-as-good. If nothing should provoke hatred, then where is the line between right and wrong?

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.
Romans 12:9

Clinging to what is good!

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