Self-Mastery and the No Cussing Club

I remember years ago a young man in Southern California named McKay Hatch courageously encouraged his peers to not use foul language. He started the No Cussing Club in his school, which gained some attention—in fact a lot of attention. The attention came after a letter was written to the City of South Pasadena to write a proclamation for a “no cussing week”. The media got a hold of it, and soon the idea spread like wildfire. McKay was soon on a media circuit—Good Morning America, the Tonight Show, Inside Edition, Dr. Phil, the Jay Leno Show, etc. 

McKay’s courageous challenge came at a cost. His father, who did not want him to start the club when he did because he felt he’d be made fun of, later reported that the family received literally thousands of death threats and people shut down his website three times and laced it with profanity and pornography. His dad, in full support of McKay after he took the steps to start the club, said many people, even those who had been swearing for many years, were encouraged to clean up their language.[1] However, many people seriously opposed the movement and went out of their way to destroy it. 

McKay and his family are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As members of the Church, they believe in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon. At the beginning of the Book of Mormon is a story about a family who leaves Jerusalem before the Babylonian destruction. The father, Lehi, has a dream that he tells his family. 

In the dream, Lehi sees a beautiful, large tree with white fruit “which was desireable above all other fruit,” (1 Nephi 8:15) and the interpretation of the tree is the love of God.[2] Also in the dream or vision are large fields and a midst of darkness, keeping many from seeing the strait and narrow pathway with a rod of iron that, if held, can lead the people straight to the tree of life. 

A gulf and a filthy river lie on the other side of the pathway and the tree. At the other side is a giant, spacious building filled with many prideful people mocking those who are partaking of the fruit. 

The late Elder Neal A. Maxwell said this of the mockers in the building: “Parenthetically, why—really why—do the disbelievers who line that spacious building watch so intently what the believers are doing? Surely there must be other things for the scorners to do—unless, deep within their seeming disinterest, there is interest.”[3] 

Like those who went out of their way to stop the No Cussing Club mission, even if they had better things to do, there will always be opposition. Lehi taught his son there will be “an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). 

I’ve heard people say they don’t want to try to be better because then there will be too much opposition. That’s sophomoric thinking. People who say or think that don’t realize that self-improvement perpetuates greater strength. Every leader, every organization, every person in the world has faced opposition when trying to do something good or when trying to be better. The opposition can make us stronger. 

If people make fun of you, fine. You should expect that. Lehi explained part of his dream like this:

“And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not” (1 Nephi 8:33).

But we heeded them not! What a beautiful phrase. What a smart choice. 

Figure out what you want to do and seek after that thing. Don’t be led astray by naysayers and mockers. Anything worth doing, especially those things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy”[4] will get opposition.

Besides, swearing is easy. Challenging yourself to have better self-control and self-mastery in whatever aspect of life you’re working on, that’s the challenge worth taking.

Know there will always be those that oppose you if you’re trying to improve. Just don’t let them pull you away. That’s what happened in Lehi’s dream. Some of the people partook of the fruit and were filled with the love of God. When others made fun of them, some fell away and were lost. 

I propose instead to have the attitude of young McKay Hatch who said with conviction, “You can’t be fearful at all because you know that Heavenly Father is on your side and he’s going to protect you. I don’t care what these people think. I only care what God thinks. And I know if He was happy then I was doing the right thing.”[5] 

[1] No Cussing Club. [Video]

[2] 1 Nephi 11:21-22.

[3] Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” BYU speech, Oct 10, 1978.

[4] Article of Faith no. 13.

[1] Supra note 1.

Jeffrey Denning

Jeffrey has written award-winning articles for the Washington Times,, and other publications. He is the author of seven books, including Warrior SOS: Military Veterans’ Stories of Faith, Emotional Survival and Living with PTSD. He teaches courses on peer support, suicide prevention, and other mental wellness and resilience to public safety professionals. If you would like Jeff to speak at your event or training please contact him HERE.

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