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As I See It: Words, words, words

The spoken word was likely the first means of communication after gestures or crude drawings, but we don't really know. While it's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words; words — whether spoken or written — are still our primary means of communication. And the way we use words can be positive or devastating.

Using the right word at the right time can bolster the ego, provide comfort and solace, win someone's heart, or give a person the encouragement to achieve far more than he or she believed possible. And I know we have all experienced the embarrassment to ourselves or the anguish we have caused others when we made a conversational blunder or sent off an ill-advised email. For some reason all the apologies in the world often cannot undo things we have said or written.

I'm not certain we are educating our children to be discerning when it comes to watching, listening to or reading the news and other "informative" programs. Here are two cases in point.

I was watching "Sunday Morning" earlier this week and one of the features on the program included a segment on a former model who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. My closest cousin died from this form of the disease before he was 60.

As the reporter was narrating the segment, one word jumped out at me that changed the entire impact of the story in my mind from human interest to political. The narrator said that this woman's husband was one of the thousands of "unpaid" caregivers in our country.

I doubt that most people even heard or noticed that word ... but the seed is being planted, fertilized and watered.

My mother and father were unpaid caregivers. Their mothers and fathers were unpaid caregivers. Several members of our family were unpaid caregivers when our mothers and fathers developed cancer and dementia. My sister was an unpaid caregiver as her husband died of cancer.

Yet somehow some of us have decided that people who are fulfilling human obligations to other family members should now be compensated — by taxpayers, of course.

Also, in the previous week the Brainerd Dispatch reprinted a Washington Post editorial on gun control that decried the efforts of the "gun lobby" in opposing "reasonable" gun control measures.

"Reasonable" is not an objective word. It is subjective in that the reader/listener can further define what constitutes a reasonable measure. Do you think Sen. Feinstein and Wayne LaPierre would come up with the same measures of reasonableness in regards to firearms?

A further implication is that the gun lobby is being unreasonable in its opposition. Forget not that one of the primary methods of progressives is incremental — start small and once you have the first step, demand the second step, and the third, and so on until you have achieved everything you want.

While I personally believe we could develop some additional, reasonable gun control measures, I also believe strict enforcement of current laws will help. And I fully understand the position of the gun lobby as it looks back at the outcome of other progressive social programs like abortion, mandatory sex education (indoctrination is a far better word), gay marriage, and anti-prayer and religious expressions of any type anywhere.

I have listened to National Public Radio off and on for years and while it claims to be balanced, it is most assuredly liberal/progressive in its use of words — especially adjectives. Other media outlets don't use just words alone, but simply ignore news that is detrimental to their biases, or flood their programs with a smokescreen on other news that supports their causes.

If you really want to be discerning, listen to the adjectives. While the voice of a commentator may be soothing and calm, the choice of words (or the networks' scripts) may convey a far different picture that is misleading at best or outright lies at worst.

Joseph Goebbels was the architect of the National Socialist's propaganda machine in Germany from 1933-45. If you studied his methods at shaping public opinion you might be surprised at how close some of those are to what you will find today in our own government and news organizations.

Words truly are much more than just words.

Well, that's the way I see it.