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We’re just left being right

Ross L. Talbott
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The English language is such an interesting piece of work; I sympathize with foreigners trying to learn to speak “American.”

We once had a young lady from Ukraine living with us. Occasionally she would blush and laugh because some word we spoke was profanity in her language. It seems there are contradictory terms or phrases in our language. For instance, people who think I’m really off in the head call me a “moron.” You would think the term should be “you’re a moroff.”

Another word that’s a real kick is the word “up.” Consider the incredible ways “up” is used. How about fed up, paid up, upset, up chuck, filled up, closed up, opened up, and up to no good. The list is so long and you could stay up all night trying to think up all of them. Now you are beginning to wonder what I am up to. Maybe I’m just being uppity. Please don’t get all shook up.



Another use of words that is a real head scratcher is our application of the terms left and right. The word right has a positive context. For instance you can be right as in the correct answer on a test. Then there is right as the correct analysis of a situation. Other uses with positive context are righteous, right on, rightful and, may I dare to say, the right hand of the Father.

On the other hand (pun intended), the term left has negative connotations. You can be left out, left behind, or left over. To further confuse the issue, consider that the political media believes that the left is right and the right is wrong. Are the pundits right that the right is wrong or are they just trying to upstage and upset the conservatives?



I believe I’m right being right, but I may have left something out. You may think I’m way out in left field, but you are definitely not right.

Freedom, opportunity and personal responsibility are right down my alley. The federal government should be left out of the picture except in the areas of defense and transportation. A large part of the problem concerning the middle ground between left and right is that we get so wrapped up in our identity.

Whenever anyone disagrees with our beliefs, we feel threatened and throw up our defenses. Usually our political or religious identity has been formed over the years by parents, teachers, professors and preachers. These days the media plays an important role in helping us create our identity. If someone attacks or questions our beliefs, we intuitively feel it is an attack on all those we have loved and trusted in addition to questioning our personal judgment.

We are drawn to people and ideas that seem to affirm our position and are threatened by disagreement. Bill Bennet was quoted as saying, “Nothing blinds people to reality more than ideology.” Words are so connected with feeling that we cannot avoid emotional responses, but emotional responses and emotions are often the largest block to reason.

Text messaging is the poorest form of communication ever devised. Meaning in words is expressed by facial expressions, gestures and eye contact. Music also enhances words. Can you imagine Elvis texting “R u lon som 2 nite”?

The value of a person’s opinions and ideas is often subconsciously judged by the listener, based on clothing, location or former experiences. Is a successful businessman’s opinion to be believed more readily than a drunken man’s? Or is a college professor who has never worked in industry more credible than a successful contractor?

The future of our nation hinges on who is right and who is wrong. Does the Constitution really need to be reinterpreted? Is religion just some form of social club or is there really a spiritual component to this life? Is death really the end? Can you afford to be wrong?

Oh, by the way, the Bible says in Ecclesiates 10: 1-2 “A little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right but a fool to the left.”

Get it right. Don’t get all worked up and get left behind.

– Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.


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