The hyperbole of titles

We assign titles to everything in life. If you read a book it will have a title, positions within a company all have titles, essentially we label everything. On a more granular level we might see these headings crop up in our filing cabinets, spice racks or even a shopping list for groceries. While these titles provide organization for a busy life, some titles are overused. Some titles are not accurate but the label can affect a person or even a group of people. I want to quickly discuss three titles that are being overused today.

Hero. I remember joining the Marines post Viet Nam in 1979. It was an era of discontent and distrust in our American government. It was a time when people would give you strange looks if you told them what you did for a living. Fast forward to 2001. America was attacked on its own soil and the attitude towards the military and first responders changed. Suddenly, everyone was a hero. A hero, really. Young people coming out of boot camp were hero’s, office clerks in the service were hero’s. The word and it meaning started to wane. Today, we call children hero’s, honestly we call just about anyone or anything by this title. So, the man or woman that give their lives in combat are the same as a child in second grade? The fireman or policeman that give their lives to save others have the same title as a high school graduate coming out of boot camp? Be careful whom you call hero, it is reserved for a select few.

Genius. Everyone is a genius these days, a prodigy, a savant if you will. I remember a time when we would use statements such as “There is genius in that thinking”. No, today we have gifted children’s classes. They prep them for a test, and if you score high enough, you are now titled gifted. Gifted is another veil attempt to say genius. Genius, expert, these are titles that should be assigned sparingly. We all have access to a great deal of information around the clock just a reach away from a smart device. Sometimes we can just say “Hey Siri”, “Hey Google”, or “Alexa”, and get a brevity of information delivered immediately for our consumption. Does this make us all geniuses? Hardly, but it doesn’t take much to let the ego go into overdrive. Maybe, the person that should be recognized these days is the humble human being, they seem to be in short supply today. Regardless, be careful when you assign genius to that which is very average.

Racist. While the previous mentioned words are annoying, this one is dangerous. I wish I could give you the definition of a racist, but today that word is flung with blatant disregard for accuracy. Anyone at anytime might find themselves handed this title for the most innocuous comments or actions. I wonder when mankind became such experts at carefully dissecting a person’s intentions, thoughts and motives? People that cannot balance their checkbook, maintain healthy relationships and think civil disobedience is the answer to the country’s woes are now in the exalted position to assign such a corrosive title. I remember hearing the story as a child of the boy who cried wolf. The moral of the story tells us if you cry wolf too many times, when an actual wolf is upon you, no one will believe you. This term racist has put our society in an identical situation. The tragedy, racists do exist in this country, always have existed, but they are now well camoflauged among ordinary people that do not fit that description. This word should be used like a fire alarm, break glass in case of emergency.

We assigned titles to everything in life. Remember, with everything that is given something is lost. There is a price to be paid for reckless and damaging titles. I pray we all learn to choose our words wisely when assigning titles to things and especially people. Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger'”

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