Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Morality of Wrong

Malapropisms and common misuse of words is something which will never wane from list of annoyances that the proletariat and now, more often, the institutionally educated inflict upon the learned members of society.

Language is a beautiful mode of communication that can evoke all the feelings which are present in our emotional spectrum. Words can bring images to the blind. They can also give the precise direction that may be necessary for the safety and well-being of the listener. But this can't be accomplished if the words are abused.

I have some upcoming post that I am developing which involve morality and measures of right and wrong generally. Particularly can there be such a thing as right and wrong. So, in preparation I present this anecdote about wrong.

So many ignorant, uniformed and judgmental people attributed my medical condition to my maintenance of a healthy weight, or at least my ongoing attempt to get there. Having given their amateurish opinions due consideration I then studied the symptoms myself and researched the possible causes. My determination was that I have a condition known as Raynaud's Phenomena.

As my mother recently observed my bluish cold hands she said something was wrong with me. I was horrendously offended by such a statement. It is a rare medical condition for which I am taking proactive steps towards managing. In reflecting upon my past I am given cause to believe that I have had it nearly all my life. I never liked air-conditioning and refuse to have it in my home. When I went to Phoenix nearly two years ago and stepped out of the car into the heat of the mid-day July sunshine I was immediately overcome by a sense of rapture. I was home, I was comfortable, I felt invigorated -- I was happy! Each day I went out and walked around mid-day or swam in the pool. But did this make me deserving of moral deprecation.

She had said there was something wrong with me. I was discussing this with a married couple last night and the wife says well wrong does mean incorrect. The husband jumps in and says now you are being his mother. The banter continued for awhile about her insistence on how she has used the word and his admonition about correct usage of words. He understood -- words have individual meaning. The English language, as discombobulated as it is, does not have five words all meaning the same for every concept. Such is the case with wrong.

Wrong does mean incorrect but we can't leave it at that. False also means incorrect. The distinctions falls to mood. Incorrect is factually inaccurate. False is incorrect but it possesses a mood also -- being deceptive. It is not as strong as lie though -- with the intention to deceive. Wrong is the opposite of right. Right is founded in righteousness -- having its basis in conformity with morality. Thus wrong means to be incorrect with the tone of being morally depraved. Incorrect, wrong and false can labeled as synonymous.

Synonym does not presuppose having the same meaning. Rather thesauruses, the lexicon of synonyms, are intended to assist the user in identifying words that have the same underlying meaning but may have a different mood or application. I may lift a chair while you vacuum the carpet but I would elevate the beam used as the header over the french doors. Both may be found under the thesaurus entry for raise though.

Back in the joint there was an intense discussion amongst my circle of friends. I noted to one of the inmates that he was just ignorant. He jumped to his feet, postured and then another inmate grabbed him and said "You just told him that you never learned about that. Ignorant means not having the knowledge." The agitated inmate said, "No, it means stupid." It was his improper understanding of the word that led to his outburst.

Language is an art no different than music, paintings or sculpture. Our daily conversation does not need possess the literary refinements of prose or the great orations delivered by historical political figures but it need not be inaccurate for want of simple effort to learn. So next time you say someone has done something wrong you may want to consider whether you actually intend to attack his or her moral standing.

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