Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not saying what we mean
           I dislike euphemisms. 
          They’re not only distasteful to me but I also believe they’re dangerous.  When we adopt too many of them–when we stop calling things what they really are, I think we’re headed for trouble. 
          If we engage in too much out-sourcing, for example, our gross national product suffers, our trade deficit grows, and we lose American jobs and expertise, not to mention making our economic competitors wealthy.
          If we go off on an armed intervention, we risk committing collateral damage to innocent humans while attempting to neutralize insurgents and some of our own young troops might even become casualties due to friendly fire.
          When our politicians no longer lie to us, but rather simply misspeak, when illegal aliens become merely undocumented, when hospitals and assisted living communities and rest homes have negative patient care outcomes, when life jackets become personal flotation devices, when old-fashioned gambling with the rent money becomes innocuous gaming, when a workforce is only downsized–well, I could go on until the full-figured lady sings–when embracing so many convenient diluted euphemisms becomes habitual in our society, I believe something is fundamentally wrong.
          To me, one of the most reprehensible euphemisms to crop up in recent years is transitioning.  There have always been many euphemisms for dying but most have been benign, intended simply to ease the grief of those left behind.  Pass away is a good innocent example. At the other end of that spectrum, brutally doling out death has been euphemized as ethnic cleansing, which can be accomplished with everything from old-fashioned machetes to ingenious anti-personnel devices.
          There is something particularly insidious about the word transitioning.  It sounds so peaceful and innocent.  But if we can say grandmother transitioned recently, is it so great a leap to claim Adolph Hitler only facilitated the transitioning of six million Jews?  He not only helped all those men, women, children, and elderly folk (whose quality of life had sadly deteriorated anyway) across to the other side, but he also quite efficiently transitioned the mentally challenged and the differently abled and the politically incorrect.  You might even say he was one of the first equal-opportunity transitioners long before he finally transitioned his new bride and himself in his underground bunker.
          I think I’ll write a short story about a character with much more modest aspirations than what drove the likes of Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot.  My new character only effectuates the transitioning of one soul at a time, sometimes for remuneration, but often just for personal fulfillment.  
         I’ll call him Transition Man.

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