I've been thinking about this a lot lately, when I hear the kids at the computer center swearing, when I read stuff with swears included, when I let a swear slide out of my own mouth. Kids probably think it's rebellious and cool. Adults may think it's a harmless way to express annoyance or anger. It just seems to be part of our everyday language now, but I don't want that to be so. I want people, and perhaps the kids especially, to think more consciously about how they'll be perceived when they use swears and explicit language and whether that's the image they want to portray. Is it an image they can respect? And if they can't respect themselves, who else will?
As an alternative to swearing, here's a little story. An elderly man who didn't speak English well lost his luggage in Grand Central Station in New York. Unable to get the station manager's help and utterly frustrated, he shouted, "Pretty darn seldom where my bags go. She no fly. You no more fit run station than God's sake. That's all I hope." Spoken with the right fervor, there's no comeback to such nonsensical statements and I can vouch for how peculiarly satisfying those words are. Try them next time instead of swearing.
Okay, preaching done now.