The Language Of ‘Dude’!

TheDiscipleMD

Several years ago I was again reminded about the importance of dignity in our speech. This was brought to my attention by a visit of our President to a popular comedy show. In response to a statement that the President made, the host said, “You don’t want to use that phrase, dude.” I realize that the venue was a comedy show, but have we reached a point where even the President of the United States can be addressed in such disrespectful language.  Not long after that  I read a column in the New York Times by a prominent journalist. The title of her article was,  “Can the Dude Abide.” It was referencing our President. Now we have the New York Times calling our President “Dude”. How wonderful! The “Language of Dude” is now becoming “chic.” Perhaps the younger generation would say that addressing someone as “dude” isn’t being disrespectful at all. And to that I would say, “I rest my case!”

A few years ago an officer of the law in Baltimore City had a run in with a 14-year-old skateboarder who addressed him as “dude” which the officer took as contemptuous. The incident, recorded by another youth on a cell phone, ended up in a heated exchange. I didn’t agree with the way the officer handled the situation but I do agree that being addressed as “dude”, which the youth did several times during the course of the argument, could be perceived as being disrespectful. Yet, I wonder how we can expect a 14-year-old youth to understand the importance of language when a popular adult comedian, beloved by them, and a renowned journalist calls the President of the United States the same thing.

I don’t know, I know times change but isn’t the manner in which we speak have some import. It is clear to me that respect for certain offices and occupations is important in developing civility and honor. Gordon B. Hinckley pointed out where this “respect” is taught in an address he gave in 1994.

“May I take you who are older back in memory to the homes of your childhood. I think that in many cases there was prayer in those homes; families knelt together in the morning and invoked the watchful care of God. At night they joined again in prayer. Something wonderful came of this. It is difficult to describe, but it did something for children. The very act of expressing gratitude to God, our Eternal Father, brought with it a feeling of respect, reverence, and appreciation. The sick were remembered in those prayers, as were the poor and the needy. The leaders in government were remembered in those prayers. This cultivated a spirit of respect for those in public office. Where is that respect today?” (“Four Simple Things to Help Our Families and Our Nations,” Liahona, Jun 1996).

I recall, as a child, praying for our President. It didn’t matter what party he belonged to, just that he was “our” president and we addressed him as such. As I grew older I formed opinions, some of which were radically different from some Senators and Presidents, yet, calling them “dude” never entered my mind. In my mind, such talk would demean the important office which they held. And so it is in regards to church officers. On occasion I have heard some members refer to our church leaders in similar vein. It always seems to be done in a way to demean the leader or officer. The denial of such is just that,  a “denial”.

It is in the home where “respect” is nurtured and taught. We need to take the time to do so. Our children’s lives will be blessed as they learn that respect and honor are an important part of a “celestial” life. While the “Language of Dude” may be “chic” to some, to me it is simply an outward expression of an inner lack of reverence.

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