In today’s world, with its tweets and texts and short social media postings, the world’s general public is losing its grasp on language, making genuine conversation a rarity instead of regularity and most of it can’t be called conscious. We’ve changed language in ways that diminish rather than enhance: turning words into numbers and single letters, making acronyms for everything, and turning nouns into verbs. This turns people, places and things into actions.
Have you heard the great expression: “We’re human beings, not human doings”? Action, right action, is a wonderful, important thing. But the irony is, you can’t do right without being in your “right mind” –that is conscious of what’s going on around you, aware of others, honest with yourself about your shortcomings as well as your strengths. Our thoughts are our inner language, and if we can’t speak well in our own minds, using a broad vocabulary to identify and describe our beliefs and feelings, it’s very hard to have sensible, meaningful and productive conversations with anyone else: the boss, the employee, the citizen, the leader, the partner, the child – anyone!
When I was growing up in the 1950s, social norms said don’t talk about sex, religion, or politics. Fortunately for me, I grew up in a community of activists, readers and thinkers. We talked about everything. Among my friends, no subject was taboo. In the 1960s the civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and peace movements helped drive thoughtful, caring people away from polite chat to meaningful conversation, conscious conversation.
Sadly, it also created stronger barriers between us and them. We could talk amongst ourselves, but not too well with the other: one side became “pigs” and the other side “commie outside agitators.”
That situation is even more problematic, today. There is a lot of real hate and miscommunication going on, worldwide, and a lot of it is directly connected to unconscious language, biases and very little conversation. In the U.S., President Trump’s declaration of “fake news” (what he doesn’t like, agree with, or wants to hide) trying to suppress and disparage a free media, mirrors what we see in nativist leaders fostering fear of the other to keep people divided (Presidents Recep Erdogan of Turkey and Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines; Norbert Hofer’s Freedom Party in Austria; Marine Le Pen’s Freedom National Rally party; Nigel Farage, the architect of Brexit; etc.).Download Article 1K Club