There are many words in the English language that have changed meaning over time. For example, the word artificial originally meant artistic or crafty. The word decimate meant to reduce by one tenth and in the original Latin the word nice, meant ignorant or unaware.
Just since the 19th century the words for dinner and supper have changed, when dinner referred to the large meal of the day — often in the early afternoon — and supper meant the smaller meal later at night — often after 7:00 pm. Now, both dinner and supper are interchangeable and refer to the evening meal.
In the modern world, many other words have changed meanings. Spam, a processed and canned meat, now refers to the mountains of junk e-mails we receive daily. A cursor was the word for a running messenger and now means the movable indicator on a computer screen. The the word friend once applied only to those people we have a close personal bond and connection with, but now refers to anyone on our Facebook or Twitter page.
But in my opinion, one of the most interesting word changes involves the word offensive or the phrase to offend. These words have long been in existence — for hundreds of years — but only in the last decade the meaning become altered and is now even confusing.
During the Vietnam War, American television announcers warned viewers when upcoming footage from the war, would be offensive; when it would contain graphic images of war and violence. And we knew what the word offensive meant then — even without seeing it, we knew.
At that same time, domestically, we were a country divided by race and hate and fear. A man with dark skin now had the right to fight and die as a soldier along with his white counterparts — a first in US History — but he could not attend the same church or use the same public restroom.
To say these events were offensive would be a great understated truth.
Then, in 1968, Brown vs. The Board Education, would allow black and white students to actually sit in the same classroom together. And there was more violence. And more fear.
Slowly — over the decades — the race walls began to crumble. Slower yet, the hate and fear began to fade.
Then came the events of September 11, 2001; a world altering event where a radical group of Muslim extremists plotted attacks that took thousands of American lives.
And everything changed.
Religion now became the new race. We were frightened and angry and confused and were told that a world split by religion could only be mended by understanding and tolerance. And fueled by a desire for healing, we embraced this word; tolerance. And there were more words that were added to our lexicon. And the more words mixed in, the more vague and confusing it all became.
Instead of kindness we were asked to be objective. Instead of understanding we were encouraged to be respectful. Instead of being neighborly we were told to be civil. And above all things, the ultimate focus was to never say or do anything that might be ever be perceived as — offensive.
And because we never truly understood the new meaning of this word — offensive — we did not understand what it truly was to offend. So, we simply took the easier path and avoided any and all areas that even might offend. And that meant anything religious or spiritual.
And the new segregation began.
Which bring us to this. To the ultimate irony and the ultimate truth.
I believe in God. I believe in a God that created me and watches over me and who is with me on earth will be with me in Heaven. There is no need for me to apologize for this because there is nothing offensive about it.
As men, we need to work less on being tolerant and more on being generous.
We need to be less objective and be more helpful.
And we need to be less unbiased and be more forgiving.
And above all things, we need to be grateful. Grateful to our God. Grateful to our family, our neighbors and grateful to all that is on loan to us for the short time we live in this world.
And during that Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter or that visit to someone else’s home, if we are extended the honor to say grace over the meal, we should embrace it.
If you’ve never publicly said grace over a meal, the rules are simple.
We are thanking God for the meal. We are thanking Him for the chance to be at that table with family and friends. We are grateful to live in a place where food is plentiful and we can live and work without fear or danger. We will work hard to show love and kindness to all we come in contact with.
And we are grateful.