Instant pudding and those four-letter words

Strolling through our mall, I heard it — heard it and didn’t like it. Didn’t like it at all. That word came in sharp staccato.

Strolling through our mall, I heard it — heard it and didn’t like it.  Didn’t like it at all.  That word came in sharp staccato — over and over again.  In short form, then in every possible variation.

Just four letters — four letters!  Us oldies never knew such words existed at that age.  And the effect wasn’t brave or wise.  It was angry — angry and ugly.

That evening, the news blared out yet another shooting. And I wondered, here in my happy little hometown, if the ills of society are creeping closer and closer. Is there a connection between flaming attitudes spewed in a mall, and an eventual hail of bullets?  Something tells me there is.

Aside from gun availability and mental illness, and what else? Where is the anger coming from? How does a child decide, since they ‘deserve better,’ that the other guy must die? How does my teacher friend find herself stabbed to death over advanced math?

It’s all instant pudding. Sweetness I want now. I don’t want to wait for an iPhone. I don’t want to work for the clothes I like. I want yours.  I don’t want to practice — I just want to look good. I want — and what I want, I want now!

Sickly sweet feelings!

“I want life to treat me fairly (but it doesn’t), I want to be cool (but I’m not), I want to be famous (good or bad), and I want everyone to be the way I want them — now!”

And finally, when I don’t get it my way, I swear at the universe by “teaching someone a lesson.”

Orlando Winters, in his book, “Stop Being a ____ Idiot” had an idea.“If you want to get rid of the (perceived) meaning of curse words, you’ll have to get rid of the feelings which bring their use …”  But how?

It’s great hiding behind the literary skirts of Maya Angelou’s wit, “Nothing will work unless you do.”

I vaguely remember a little boy who had to work for a toy he dearly wanted.

When he succeeded, that piece of tin meant more to him than anything he owned.  Better yet — that boy is still working.

Work develops strength — or weight lifters would lift pencils. And if responsibilities are gradually increased, strength will continue long after the challenges are laid down.

Words are near-sacred — the most powerful entity on earth.  Consider, “I hate you,” or “I love you.” Demosthenes said the sound that comes from tapping on a pot tells you if its cracked or not. It’s the same with people.  There were some cracks sounding in the mall that day.

I don’t suppose asking folks to clean up their language would help.

But four-letter words that restore sense, principle, character, incentive, self-discipline, productivity, and patience might be worth resurrecting.

Like? Want? Wait. Work. Four-letter words.

If we heard those more often, maybe the other one, and its destructive aftermath, would eventually go away.

Rita Corbett is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.


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