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What's in a Word?

We have heard a lot recently about the power of words, how to use our words carefully. We even find new words cropping up in our dictionaries so frequently it makes one wonder if we need to register for language classes to understand what is being said to us.

Case in point, and to be clear, this is in no way a mask debate. But I find myself perplexed when trying to understand the meaning of our governor’s order on face masks and apparently businesses large and small, national and local share my bewilderment. Governor Cooper has issued executive order 141 to cover that so I don’t need to restate it. My confusion lies in the use of words.

The definition of:

“order”-an authoritative command, direction, or instruction

“mandate”-an official order or command to do something

“require”-specify as compulsory

Are very different from:

“must”-be obliged to, should

“please”-used in polite request or questions

“encourage”-help to stimulate an activity, state, or view

With this being said, in addition to the governor’s order, large box stores have issued “orders” of their own. Walmart and Lowe’s, in a big fanfare of advertising and media coverage that dominated the airways for days, have stated verbally and with new signage that they have new face cover requirements confounding the lack of clarity on this issue. One would think these “orders” would give us a higher level of confidence for our safety when having to venture out for essentials. Yet, I have found despite the use of “words”, businesses checked out yesterday appeared questionably to be in compliance. I find it difficult to believe that so many out and about in our population have a medical reason why they cannot wear a mask and in my opinion wonder if given their conditions should be out and about…but I digress.

Since there are little “teeth” behind executive order 141, businesses find that they are at a distinct disadvantage. They want to comply but the language is so vague and offers little protection to establishments attempting to do business in already tense circumstances. Businesses are at risk of fines for noncompliance, but have no real recourse for enforcement of executive orders in our new climate of chaos. So, what are they to do?

I guess what I am saying is: Use. Your. Words. In a time when words are powerful and can outline and guide safety for populations, use them correctly and with real intent. If there is no plan to enforce a “mandate” don’t use the word mandate. Instead, continue to use language to persuade a behavior. In the not so distant future words may very well be necessary to enforce behaviors. If a precedent of non-enforcement is set, no one will understand why last week it was ok to ignore a mandate and this week you are penalized for ignoring that mandate.

Civilized societies live by rule of law; make it clear, make it enforceable, and people will comply. Stay smart, stay safe and know that I love Wayne County and want to see us all thrive! May God continue to bless us all!

Breaking News as of Buzz

Presstime: Two U.S. Airlines, American and Southwest Announced Today They Will No Longer Accept Medical Exemptions for Face Masks!

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