When words have lost their meaning

“Wordplay” was a 1985 episode of the Twilight Zone, where a businessman, Bill, wakes up to find words, everyday words, have all changed meanings. Thus, “lunch” is now called “dinosaur” (e.g., “Let’s go for a dinosaur”) and “dog” is “encyclopedia,” and so on. The episode ends with Bill picking up his young son’s ABC book and starts trying to relearn language all over again.

That words are important is a ridiculous understatement. The whole of creation could have been done by a mere flick of the wrist by God but instead He chose to do so through words. Thus, “let there be light,” of which — at the end of it — God proclaims all to be “good.”

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Logos. Jesus Christ himself being the Word made flesh.

And yet, as punishment for pride, for building the Tower of Babel, men were made to grapple with different words of different meanings, causing division, confusion, and misunderstanding.

For a while, several millennia later, people had seemingly somewhat paid for their pride: globalization, technology, the internet all helped — so the intellectuals say — to make people closer, bridging the gap caused by the differences and barriers in cultures, languages, and borders. People can wear stuff from other countries, talk to friends from the other side of the world, read books translated from various languages, and travel personally to different cities in different continents.

But — of course — the Left has to come in and ruin everything.

Many point out that the most damaging thing ever created by the Left was communism and socialism. Perhaps there is indeed a point to that. The hundreds of millions of dead bodies strewn all over Russia, China, Cambodia, North Korea — just to start — all attest to that.

And yet, far more damaging ultimately is post-modernism, which is skeptical or even cynical about everything, including reason itself, and thus doubtful about the very existence of truth. Communism could cause people to starve or be murdered, post-modernism could do all that and still go further by causing people to lose their sense of meaning, hence, even their souls.

Take the debate over the environment: those old enough would remember the big furor made over pollution. For a time, environmentalists focused on insecticides (see 1962’s Silent Spring by Rachel Carson), which some experts say caused between 60-80 million deaths from the malaria that spread from the banning of DDT. Then there were the 1950-1960s Thalidomide babies, with blame placed on pharmaceutical companies and pretty much all forgotten now in these pharma-fueled vaccine-hysteria times.

But environmentalists, it must be remembered, also loudly trotted out “global warming,” until they realized the world was actually cooling down so they had to shift to “climate change.” But climate change itself — as a term — is a redundancy: the climate, by definition, does change over certain periods of time.

Nevertheless, the Left has never been deterred by logic. Or rather the lack of it. Witness the many environmental doomsayers (from Malthus to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes) that would make solemn predictions of the world ending in 10 (or 12 years) and then when that day has come and gone, would give the world another 10 or 12 years.

Abortion is another good example: what should simply be considered as nothing more than the selfish murder of an unborn child has become a “choice.” “My body, my choice.” Which ignores the fact that the most oppressed, voiceless segment of our society — the unborn — was practically given no choice in the matter. But as science has day-by-day shown that the fetus is truly a distinct human being, then murder (in this case, abortion) has now morphed into “reproductive health,” in that without the ability to murder a baby then a woman’s good mood could be prejudiced.

Eugenicists, which the abortion movement could be counted among, also speaks the same way in relation to the murder of the elderly and handicapped: from eugenics, to population control (at least in those days they were honest), to the present day’s “dying with compassion,” and the ever-popular default reason: “choice.”

All the foregoing culminated most brilliantly during the pandemic: justifying the lockdowns with “flatten the curve,” to avoid overwhelming hospitals, to squash the curve, to complete testing, to wait for vaccine, to save every single life.

About the last part, about “saving every single life,” the declared (repeat: declared) condition for many is that it meant saving the “vaccinated’s” life, the unvaccinated be damned. Now that data and more data are coming out that the vaccinated are filling many countries’ records, either with COVID-19, myocarditis, blood clots, stroke, or SADS, nobody is now talking about saving every single life. But medical privacy — which before was taboo as the pro-vaccination crowd wanted the right to study, work, or travel reserved only for the vaccinated — is suddenly important, and all of a sudden, the vaccination status of the sick or deceased must be kept private.

Which leads us to even having to struggle saying what a woman is.

In saner times, it a woman was simply an adult human female. Generally, with a female reproductive system and XX chromosomes.

But no.

In these insane, woke, times, one sees the New York Times unironically declaring triumphantly that the Miss Universe pageant now has its “first female owner.” Of course, that owner is a man. The same goes for Jeopardy’s first “woman” champion.

So, apparently, feminism has won because the men took over. It figures.

But the best symbol, so far, of the fact that words have lost meaning has got to be that Martin Luther King, Jr. statue recently unveiled in Boston. For the progressives, it was a work of art. For saner people it is: “What the f**k?”

Jemy Gatdula is a senior fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence

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