Sunday, September 29, 2013


“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Since my mother was fond of this quote and always gave Heber J. Grant the credit, I grew up believing he was indeed the author of these words. Thanks to the miracle of the internet such oversights can now be quickly remedied and Ralph Waldo Emerson can now receive his deserved credit.

I have come to realize that like so many truths in life, this bit of wisdom can lead to both good and bad ends, to both blessings and cursings for us all. A blessing comes to all of us who enjoy the results of a gifted individual who toils for long hours in developing and perfecting a talent. Sadly, we are also cursed when our lives are contaminated by those who through much practice have developed a disgusting habit which has become an ingrained flaw to their character.

The U. S. News and World Report in May of 1982 reported a trend in society which has now avalanched into a plague upon us all. “The four letter word has emerged from the barrooms and barracks and can be heard and seen almost everywhere in conversation at restaurants, on bumper stickers, in cheers bellowed at sporting events, on television and in movies.” Sorrowfully, what was written as a shocking exposé on the downward movement of societal vocabulary, would today be laughed at as being very old fashioned and out of tune with the times.

I grew up believing that grandparents were examples of those who had lived lives of positive selections, having incorporated that which was good and rejected that which was repugnant. My own grandfather Riley, although he was a truck farmer and had a very temperamental old Ford truck was never heard by me to utter a foul word or make an obscene gesture. I loved the movie On Golden Pond, but hated the propagandized reality, which I was left with, that seemingly profanity was a rite of passage as one passed into ‘old’ age. It seemed to advocate that the more four letter characters a senior could add to their sentences the more character they were presumed to have.

For many years I watched the adventures of Star Trek on the small screen. With elation I can report that those wondrous explorers of far off times had overcome the necessity to use vulgar verbiage. However, by the time they brought Star Trek to the big screen it was shocking to hear that those future heroes had come of age and were well practiced in the use of four letter words. One of the real ironies of Star Trek III – In Search of Space was that only the white hats (good guys in old westerns who never swore) were allowed the privilege of profanity while the dreaded bad guys (who spit and drank in old westerns) were limited to colorless colloquialisms.

As I proceeded through my training in various athletic endeavors it was stressed that one of the keys to athletic achievement was total control of my faculties, physically as well as emotionally. It is now somewhat embarrassing to attend my grandchildren’s soccer games and have to listen to what spews forth from mom’s, dad’s, coaches, and kids. It is impossible to watch sports news casts without hearing bleeps and seeing mouths and hands clouded over to cover obscene words and gestures. It has become apparent that many feel that with stardom comes the right to publicly give total vent to verbiage and gesture in whatever foul way you wish to pollute the environment.

When I was very young I experimented with some four letter words in secreted places with other children I was trying to impress, well out of the ear range of disapproving adults. In those days distasteful Lava soap was applied to mouths of children who were heard uttering such words. I find that more often than not I have to remind young people and adults who enter our home that some words which through practice have become very common to them are not used in our home. Sadly, sensitivity to using foul language went out of popularity when Lava soap went off the shelves of markets.

We who belong to an antiquated generation had emphasized to us in our youth that only an uneducated mind had to resort to using the crutch of ‘bad’ language. We were taught that a truly intellectual and educated person could come up with a ‘real’ or ‘appropriate’ word to fit the situation. Sadly, today, the use of cursing and profanity has escaped all proper societal boundaries and continually stench the sounds which surround us.

If I had a ‘four letter word’ wish, it would be, that all those who have become proficient in the use of profanity because of the frequency of practice would retire with their childishness into the alcoves with others of their kind where they can be impressive to one another, leaving the rest of us to bask in the pureness of language undefiled. Or maybe that Lava soap could once again be found on the shelves in the market place.

I love life and the wonders of this glorious creation of God, but I am somewhat disturbed by the way that which is common has become popular. Isaiah saw us clearly when he proclaimed “Woe unto them than call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)


  1. Sin palabras... a veces es la mejor manera de decir aquello "malo"

    Gratitud y amor por inundar mi alma

    Julio Medina

  2. Bill,
    This week I'm disappointed. Perhaps, once again, it's because of my dearth of understanding.
    Was Jesus a Prude? Was he criticized by those who felt that his behavior was unseemly?
    Be careful of what you say? Was that admonition about cultural priggishness.
    Bill, I fear that you have finally in your old age fallen into a form of harsh judgment that has little to do with Love, quite the opposite.
    It has only to do with a bias which you and those in the sub-culture around which you surround yourself wallow in self congratulatory disdain for those who deign to think differently than do you and yours.

    How sad,

    Paul Maddox

  3. Thank you Bill,

    Enjoyed this!

    I grew up in a home with profanity a plenty! My husband NEVER swore… I learned from the BEST J.

    My favorite four letter word is

    Karen Perkins


  4. Hi Bill – enjoyed your message. I believe it was Pres McKay who said “Profanity is the weak expression of an uneducated mind.” I have always loved that precise statement. I am happy to report that your friend Paxton has never uttered a profanity in our nearly 35 years together. They just are not in his vocabulary.

    Thanks again for the beautiful temple experience today. It was perfect.

    Judy Lockhart

  5. What a well-written insight to the basics of how I was raised. I once tasted the pungent aftermath of my repeating one of those four-letter words I had overheard the "big boys" use at about age 6. Though it was Lifebouy, the punishment worked very well.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Bill Ward

  6. Thank you Brother Riley. Doesn't it seem like this passage from Isaiah's is evident around us at an alarmingly accelerated pace? Or is it a sign that I am growing older? I remember my grandfather bemoning the fact that the world is just "moving too fast" and thinking how old he was at that time. He was born in 1893 and lived to see the space age launched and he could not get used to people being in such a hurry. Fortunately, he was spared the speed of the information technology we are exposed to now.
    I miss seeing you and hope life is good for you in your retirement. George and I are very excited that we are "expecting" our first grandchild in February. Our son and his wife are having a little boy and we are over the top happy and excited to hold that little guy so fresh from Heavenly parents! In spite of the world becoming more "worldly" we are blessed in so many ways!


    Nancy Sutherland

  7. ¡Gracias Presidente por sus mensajes motivadores... que Dios le bendiga...!

    Fidel Castro Agresott

  8. so true , Bill.....

    thank you again

    Renee Lehman

  9. Bill,
    I, as you surely know by now, have my own strong biases about how others should or should not think and behave.
    May I? "If I had a ‘four letter word’ wish, it would be, that all those who have become proficient in the use of profanity because of the frequency of practice would retire with their childishness into the alcoves with others of their kind where they can be impressive to one another, leaving the rest of us to bask in the pureness of language undefiled."
    "Pray" is a four letter word. Like "Lord", (more commonly used are God or Christ, neither with four letters), may be used in vain or in reverence. When prayer is in vain, as is so commonly done, advocated, even imposed, I find it personally offensive, for I hold prayer to be a hallowed gift, never to be sullied by crass politicization.
    Particularly in the South, but throughout this nation, I find that many want to pray (or is it impose prayer) at public events, especially political or sports events. I find it peculiar for one team in a sports event to call upon the Lord to be on their side. I assume that if both sides do so, God must choose which side is more worthy - based upon the teams level of "Christianity" as well as their preparation and talent. If they are from different religions, God will choose the correct religion by the outcome of a game or match. I could continue for political and other events, but you are smart and get my point.
    I have been known to express my views on this to others. However I now, based largely upon your continual teachings of forbearance, try to refrain from judging others harshly, especially from railing upon others publicly, who perceive and practice things, even hollowed prayer, differently than I would prefer.

    Paul Maddox

  10. Bill,

    I just got to reading your message for last Sunday. I still can’t believe how busy retirement is. I just can’t get it all done.

    I remember the first time I ever heard my father exclaim a four letter word. He was in the kitchen working on the cabinets and slammed one of the drawers quite hard on his thumb. “Dam it” he exclaimed. My mother often reminded me what a wonderful dad I had and that he was not prone to the habits of other men. Seems you can hardly watch anything on TV without hearing offensive language. AND I am afraid it is easy to let it pass by acceptingly. Many church members are now using similar strains of exclamation but they represent something still less than acceptable to me. For example, I am beginning to hear among elders the use of the work “freeking” (sp).

    I was complaining to one of my friends the other day that things just aren’t the way they used to be. “Maybe I am just getting old,” is said. He looked me in the eye and said, “Mike, you are old.”

    Oh well.

    Hope your say is a pleasant one.

    Tiene un hermoso día y no te olvides de reír (I think this says, don’t for get to laugh, I really can’t speak much Spanish but I though you would appreciate my attempt.)

    Miguel Byrne