alright, we have a serious word-seizing problem here. word seizing is when someone takes a word that means one thing and uses it condone behavior that is in direct opposition to the actual meaning of the word. it's sort of like human irony.

and it's everywhere.

everywhere i go, i see words like "namaste" get hijacked by crackpots and scenesters. it falls into the same category as the way "christians" hijack the name of jesus to condone murder, money-grabbing, and hatred the world over. and it happens all over in every belief system, and it's a key sign in evalutating our present state. we see muslims using the koran to condone hate, we see budhists using budhha as a god when he specifically stated that he was not. we see leonard peikoff's entire career based on someone else's ideas about being an individual and those are only a few of them.

so how does one distinguish between the two? here's a few hints:

- if you are using a word or name because of the way it makes you look to others (you might, in this case, find yourself using words like "witness" and "testify"), then stop using it. you've obviously missed the entire point.

- if you use the word in your explanation of why poor people should be hurt and rich people should be helped (things like "trickle down econmics" and other nonsense might find their way into this situation), then stop using it. you've obviously missed the entire point.

- if the word is used in the context of why we should invade countries (you might find youself using reasons like "freedom isn't free" or "we're doing it there, so that we don't have to here"), stop using it. you've obviously missed the entire point.

- if you're using the word in the context of explaining why your beliefs are the only valid ones, stop using it. you've obviously missed the entire point.

- if you're using the word in one breath and condoning torture in another breath, stop using it. you need help. seriously. check yourself into an institution. right now. go. really.

- if you're using the word in the context of telling people to support or vote for someone doing the above things, stop using it. you're so far past the point you need a time machine to find your own humanity.

- if you're using the word in order to convince people you are moral, and therefor superior to everyone else, stop using it. you probably never even understood the point.

- if you feel less guilty about your life and behavior after going somewhere where people use these words all the time (they might call it "yoga class", "church" or "temple"), then stop using it. my god, have you no sense of your own?

- if you use the word in lieu of common sense, stop using it.

- if you use the word to begin an explanation of why you're right (you might catch yourself using phrases like "my yoga teacher says" or "the bible says"), stop using it. there is a point to those words and that isn't even in the ballpark.

- if you use the words so much you can't distinguish between belief and science, for the love of everything holy, stop using it. believing does not and should not require eliminating feilds of discovery.

- if you use the words in the context of something everyone should be taught or believe, stop using it. there is no one kind of person and therefor no one kind of belive system that works for everyone.

- if you use the word to define a geographic location, stop using it. religous and belief oriented words are not and should not be limited to parcels of land, even if you really really want them to be.

- if you use these words, but pass bums on the street when you could help them, you're just a false-advertisment. obviously the word has become more important to you than it's meaning, so why bother using it anymore?

- if you're using the word to "prove" why you're right about something (you might catch yourself saying things like "jesus really is the only way because the bible says so" or "the proof that what i'm doing is right is that the koran says so"), then stop using it. a thing is not proof of itself. this is a case of word-seizing the very word "proof".

- if you use the word as an explanation for why a person is good (you might find youself saying things like "he's a good jewish boy" or "he's a good christian"), then stop using it. anyone can call themselves anything. a person's behavior defines them much more closely than words they put on their lapel. the odds aren't any better than a "christian" is moral than that a "muslim" is.

- if you use the word but do not spend each day being mindfull to excercise the principles behind them, you've missed the point in so many ways you officially outnumber the stars.

that's a few solid hints for you to help you on your way to stopping word-seizing. it may seem like a little thing, but it's a very serious problem these days. the irony is that word-seizers tend to define belief-systems for people not involved in them and so often end up making people radically opposed to ideas that could have had a very real and positive effect on their life. allow people the courtesy of finding out for themselves what any system of belief really is, not what your false advertising indicates it to be.

every real and lasting change begins with people changing themselves (not with people changing others, as some would have you believe), so change yourself. stop being a false advertisment for your beliefs. to use terms from a culture that is often too wise to realize it's own wisdom: represent, yo. and keep it real.

2006-05-24 | 4:18 p.m.
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