As I leave religion, I am faced with the challenge of defining my values independent of it. No longer is it enough to say that one should be honest because God says so. Rather, I need to make the case for honesty versus dishonesty withstanding the ninth commandment. As you can imagine, it makes for a messy value system that is dynamic, practical and progressive. However, as the title may suggest, I won’t be discussing the ethics of honesty today. No, today we shall consider a matter much less noble and vulgar. It concerns that all too familiar word, the F word or in full, FUCK.
I hope it’s not too late to warn you now that I will not censor the F word wherever it need be said in this post. So if you can’t stand it, I bid thee farewell. And on I go, first with a story.
It was in the night after a social gathering with my more proper friends at the time, and I was driving. Now Ugandan drivers are not known for their patience or reverence for traffic laws, so driving especially on a busy night is a nightmare. I was cursing all the way briefly forgetting my more sensitive companions for the journey. Actually, I didn’t notice it one bit that I could be offensive. Not until I was left alone in the car with one friend that brought it to my attention.
Now I have always been a bit of a potty mouth, using the F word in moderation but using it nonetheless. So I was dumbfounded at the gravity with which my friend considered the matter. In my defense, I pointed out that I didn’t think much of these words but apologized for having been insensitive to my friends. But he wouldn’t have it! He wanted me to recognize the fault with using these words at all. Quoting verse after verse in the bible that prohibited such language. Well, not being one to challenge scripture then, I acknowledged my sin and promised to work on it. But I wasn’t severely impressed still which is why I don’t think I ever committed to keeping that promise anyway; and here’s why.
There’s no alternative. Few words can convey the emotions that go with statements like “what the fuck” or “fuck you” or “you are so fucked up” or “you are so full of shit” if any. And the word “fuck” is so effective and precise in communicating the intensity of what we are actually feeling at that point or the seriousness of the issues we are faced with. Like Tony Robbins said in an interview with Oprah on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, and I am paraphrasing, that we tend to use softeners to make light of serious issues in our lives. Words like fuck have the ability to jolt us back into reality and to a place where we can better recognize the shit in our lives for what it actually is. And so we are better at dealing with these issues because we called a spade a spade and not a big spoon.
But what do you do when 90 percent of the people around you are conservative and would at least cringe every time you said fuck? I get you. Recently I came out to my sister and I watched her jaw drop almost literally. Then she gave me a book about Jesus because apparently, I hadn’t encountered the real Jesus before I left. Which by the way was really loving of her so I am not bringing it up here in scorn. But it shows what I am up against as I advocate for profanity in everyday speech.
To resolve or rather ignore this tension, I borrow the wisdom of Gary Vaynerchuk a (quote and quote) “motivational” speaker and social media guru among other things. In an interview with ‘business insider’, he advises those with ambitions to be successful to define their target audience. I am paraphrasing again here but, you can’t please everyone, he says. There are people that can’t listen to me because I curse a lot and that is fine, there are plenty other motivational speakers and pundits that are more agreeable. So I suggest that you also be a bit arrogant and say, “If you can’t take it, you don’t have to. I am fine in the company of those that can have that kind of shit around them.”
Notice that I am not advocating for using the F word to hurt others, like to abuse, shame or belittle them. I am certainly not advocating for more Trump-like comments like “shithole countries.” Quite the opposite; I am advocating for the use of the F word to inspire positive change within you and others you wish to exalt. Rather than saying to your friend who is drunk a lot that he drinks “a bit too much” and should “consider cutting back,” let him know how fucked up he is and how fucked up his kids are going to be for having a fuckin’ drunkard for a dad. He is a no good piss of shit as a drunkard. Period.
Featured image: a quote by Gary Vaynerchuk from pexels