Reflections: New words, new feelings to ponder

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By Thomas W. Ivines

Never before have so many new words been introduced to the American public. Since September 11, we have been bombarded with words that we seemingly have never heard before.

Of course, most of the new words came to us come from the Far East, words like "Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Taliban." But, some have come from right here in our own country - words like "anthrax," "Cipro," and "Doxycycline."

For sure, this new century has brought us a different kind of feeling, although it may not have been the one we expected. Often, turn-of-the-centuries are associated with human progress. Instead, this new one has brought us fear and anxiety. And, too, there is far more meaning to these new-century-words than others. They represent a mood we all share in America together.

Some other new words are "triple-A, Mazar-e-Sharif, and, Jihad," and though we may not know their true meanings right off hand, they ring of war, bombing, and death. We are involved in that at home and from afar: a much different mentality than what was only a domestically minded society a little over a few months ago.

The word we hear now is what is going on in Afghanistan, while at the same time we are told to go on about with our daily lives as normal. But that is not easy, when what we see on TV and read in the newspaper is more of the same over and over and over again. The war on terrorism and its repercussions will obviously affect us for a long time to come.

The true definitions of all these new words elude many of us, for what they say is not always what they mean. They instead are telling us of a time in history, a story far greater than textbooks will ever record. Those words have significant meaning for each and every one of us. They are mulled over in grief, pride, sorrow, and anger. How much we yearn for the past, the past of only a few months ago when our main concerns were only what seem trivial now.

But, reality is here and we are confronting it as it unfolds. Before all is over we will have learned many more new words - new, strange-sounding words with our own associations and individual meanings but most of all feelings. The words will be documented and archived and held to history. But I wonder if they will ever be held to history in the context as they are to us now?