“Stupidly” … one little word can make all the difference.
President Obama recently was reminded that mom was right. “Don’t say stupid!” Even if something looks stupid, or seems stupid, or is stupid, don’t use the word stupid.
Now before you misunderstand me, I’m not commenting about anything that has anything to do with the Beer Summit. I will not take a side in that wonderful distraction to the more pressing issues of our nation. I’m just talking about the word “stupid.”
There’s a reason your mom rebuked you at the dinner table. For all intents and purposes, your geometry homework might have seemed stupid, but you should have found a different way to explain your reluctance to complete your assignment.
“Did you finish your math homework?”
“No! It’s stuuuuu … I mean it’s not challenging my need for creative expression.”
“Really, well I’m going to call up that stuuuuu … I mean I’m going to call that teacher of your’s and see if we can find a better curriculum to engage your unique learning style.”
I can just hear the conversation at home as little Jimmy’s teacher decompresses from her long talk with little Jimmy’s mother.
“I just wasted two hours talking to some stupid parent about their stupid kid … Actually what I meant to say was I don’t want to talk about my day.”
Of course this is all just a bit of playful conjecture, because no teacher would ever call a parent or student stupid. More creative and subtle verbiage would most likely be employed.
It’s a little known fact that “stupendous” used to mean “an extremely stupid idea.” However, a low-level employee was able to convince his extremely stupid boss that stupendous is, in fact, an extremely complimentary word.
“Why that’s a stupendous idea! It’s really, really, stupendous!”
The new usage caught on. There is nothing more empowering than secretly insulting your boss. I think we should try this with other words.
“That is the dumbdous thing I’ve ever heard … no, no I mean that as a compliment!”
Words matter … They matter to lawyers and juries, parents and teachers, policemen and politicians, and yes, they matter to your mother. Words can harm and heal, build up and tear down, deceive and enlighten. Many a wicked deed has been accompanied by righteous sounding words.
So we use more words to judge the words and judge the motivation behind the words. Even so, there is only one who really knows. One who sees the source of every word and every deed.
As the Psalmist sings, “You have examined my heart and know everything about me … Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.”
So God knows the source and motivation of our words, and he will judge our words according to that source and motivation. Unless you think God is stupid.
Doug Bursch hosts “The Fairly Spiritual Show” at 6 p.m. Saturdays on KGNW 820 AM. He also pastors Evergreen Foursquare Church. Evergreen meets at 10 a.m. Sundays at the Riverside High School Theater. He can be reached at www.fairlyspiritual.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.