Calling the Websters: Reclaiming the DictionaryNovember 2, 2022
Guest post by Gabriel Morse.
I am realizing the sad truth that when I speak to children and young people these days, we are not speaking the same language at all. The words sound the same, but the meanings of those words just don’t seem to mean the same anymore. I’m not talking about weird changes to our language in the last ten-plus years like BOOSTER, CATFISH, CLOUD, FRIEND, and TRIGGERED. I mean words that could make a total difference in your life and the lives of your children. So, let me throw out a list of words and compare what they’ve meant to past generations of Americans as compared to what they mean now.
For those of us who have been around for a couple of years or so who use the word FAMILY, we grew up knowing that it meant a father, mother, and children. To anyone younger than 30, it’s probable that the word FAMILY only includes a mother and a child; grandparents and a grandchild; two dads or two moms and a child, or whatever you want it to be. MARRIAGE was defined as a permanently binding cultural, moral, religious, and legal relationship between one man and one woman. Now it could mean a temporary relationship between anyone or anything including your online Avatar or character that represents you.
If I say the word LEADER, I mean someone who is leading others from the front in words and deeds. Someone with the ability, skill, and character enough to work harder, longer, and smarter with more experience and sacrifice in order to help people move in a specific direction with a specific purpose. Over the last 20 years though, I’ve heard many young people with very little training, skill, experience, character or ability demand their right to lead. What they actually mean is a person (namely themselves) who wants to sit around bossing others to do the work they themselves won’t do in the fastest, cheapest, easiest way possible for the most profit and personal glory for the boss…namely, themselves.
What about the word FREEDOM? It used to mean the basic right to live, speak, worship, and defend ourselves and others from unjust tyranny. Today it means we redefine the words LIFE, BABY, MARRIAGE, CONSEQUENCES, RESPONSIBILITY, COMMUNITY, RESPECT, LAW, ORDER, AUTHORITY, and JUSTICE. Don’t even get me started on the words MAN, WOMAN, MARRIAGE, GOD, FAITH, LOYALTY, PATRIOTISM, SELF-SACRIFICE, or WORK. Some of you may ask what all of this has to do with homeschooling. Good question. So let me explain the vital importance of what I’m saying this way.
Why Definitions Matter
Your task as a homeschooling parent is to teach your children not only the facts and known truths by which they can operate as adults, but how to think critically and act wisely. What if when you taught them 1+1 in Math, Science or Biology and they came up with 3 or 53 or 103? You do know that the current public education system is teaching children that we can redefine foundational words, rules, principles and laws, right?
Maybe you personally teach your children the principles of American Government as found in the American Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The first sentence in that historic document seems pretty clear that the people who inhabited this portion of the North American continent were banding together to form a common government with a common understanding and goal of ensuring their common rights as human beings to protect their lives, freedom, and chance to enjoy both without fear of tyranny. Yet our current generation of children is being taught that our Declaration of Independence really means, “We beings of whatever gender we feel like today deserve to be and do whatever we want, including to defy all historic record, scientific evidence, and Judeo-Christian morals to be continually entertained or to loot and riot at-will without any personal cost or repercussions.” I know that was a long sentence, with a lot of information, but re-read it if you have to. It’s what passes for an education and basic dictionary these days.
Teaching the Dictionary
While this is going on, I know that homeschooling parents are trying to teach the true facts and definitions of proven truths in Math, Science, Reading, Writing, Spelling, History, Geography, etc. How many of you have considered that maybe you need to teach your children the dictionary though? Not the new Revised Webster’s Dictionary which redefines the common terms we’ve already discussed and more, but something a little older that wasn’t written by someone with a Master’s degree in whatever Woke-ism is the flavor-of-the-day. Am I being too political for a nice, little article on Homeschooling? Think what I’m saying isn’t important to teach as a fundamental anymore? Are you teaching boys and girls, I’m not sure what I am today, a kitten or a Martian? Are you teaching the truth or just something they can take or leave as they feel so inclined? Are you even teaching or should your children define their Truth for you so that you can get on board?
Hmmm. I wonder why for hundreds of years our schools had Primers and textbooks that defined all of these things for us. From them, we knew that Jack and Jill were a boy and girl who went up the hill or that our Founding Fathers were imperfect men willing to give up their fortunes and their very lives to protect the basic rights God gave every single man, woman, and child from tyranny from the moment of conception; no matter what your age, race, religion, or sex may be. Now we teach that our Founding Fathers were hateful, despotic, lying, bigots, thieves, and murderers. That the explorers, scientists, doctors, engineers, judges, and others who preceded us didn’t have a clue about facts or what they were doing. We even hear that the Biblical principles of Honesty, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, Humility, Faith, and Self Control are evil, and need to be eradicated from our actions and our vocabulary. I’m terrified to think what children who are taught these updated modern definitions of words and meanings will teach their children one day. Will LIFE come to mean DEATH, and LIBERTY mean SERVITUDE to evil, while PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS becomes PURSUIT OF PERSONAL GRATIFICATION?
The Power of Words
Words really are powerful, and they can change the world. Maybe, just maybe, there will be enough homeschooling parents who will rediscover the true definitions of words found in the Bible, the old Merriam-Webster dictionary, and our nation’s founding documents. Then, just maybe, they will teach their children the absolute, never-changing, unembarrassed, unvarnished Truth of what GOD, FAMILY, and COUNTRY mean despite the twisted revisions that are so popular in our culture today.
Whether everyone likes it or not or feels comfortable with what I’m saying, doesn’t make it any less true. Now there’s a good word for you: TRUTH. I wonder if we forget to teach what it really means to our children if they will ever learn what FUTURE, HOPE, PEACE, or NATION mean? Or if they will only be able to comprehend terrifying words such as CHAOS and TYRANNY.
If the new dictionary scares you as much as it does me, then learn the definition of these words: FORMIDABLE, FEARLESS, HARD-WORKING, GOD-FEARING, PATRIOTIC, DON’T MESS WITH MY CHILD, HOMESCHOOLING, PARENT.
So, are you ready to retake the dictionary with me in order to save your children and their children? Then let’s get to it, Mr. or Mrs. Webster. We have a lot of work to do.
More About the Author:
Gabriel is a former homeschooled missionary kid and homeschooling father who adores his wife, children, and grandchildren. He is currently rebuilding a 130-year-old homestead, writing a historical fiction book on character for young people, and mentoring young men. He is a former U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondent, Army National Guard Photographer, and U.S. Army Deputy Public Affairs representative and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He lived in Central America during Junior High and served on military short and long-term assignments across the U.S. and in half a dozen countries, including Iraq during his military career. Besides his deep faith and his family, his passion is writing and developing young men into capable steward leaders.