I was idling at a stop light and looked at the car that pulled up on my left. Long, sleek, black. In chrome, at about 2 o’clock above the front wheel well were the words, “Ultimate Edition.” I had seen “limited” and “deluxe” and “special” and, even, “Texas” editions. This was a first. Ultimate! I genuflected (as best as I could sitting behind the wheel.)
Word inflation. To me, “Ultimate” would need to be a car that costs nothing, gets there in seconds, never hits a red light and has dinner ready when I get home. Tucking me in at night might not be over the top.
When we inflate our language in order to feel better, create excitement, or sell something (including ourselves,) we lose our bearings. Conversations may or may not mean what we think they mean. Friends and acquaintances may or may not be who they say they are. We may or may not be loved for who we truly are. Super stars, amateur or professional may be average. Fine meals may prove to be routine. Things may or may not be done. We become adrift. We even begin to think of adrift as normal.
Chapter 4, Rule 51 of The Rule of St. Benedict states, “To keep one's mouth from speech that is wicked or full of guile.”
Jesus commends us the “keep it simple.” “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37 NIV)
Part of the uncertainty of our lives comes from our speech. Whether heard out loud, or from another person or in the words that inhabit our head – we will be much more alive and life-giving if we speak simply and truthfully.
When something was hard but necessary, my mother always would call it a “character builder.” Build character today in your speech.