I am becoming more aware of the power of language.
The longest relationship I have had in my life is the love affair I have with words. Although I’m not sure exactly when it began, I remember feeling excited at age 10 when my first poem was published in The Western Producer.
Over the years, I have discovered how common it is to manipulate with words. We bring closeness or insert distance. We perpetuate scarcity or produce abundance. We instill fear or express love.
Not so long ago, climate change, sustainability and social responsibility entered our everyday vocabulary. Climate means weather patterns. Sustainability is a system’s ability to remain productive. Social is how we live with others. These words are now used in a way that distances us from our daily choices. The very action of promoting sustainability proves our acceptance that systems have become unsustainable. When we discuss climate change, it feels like something that just happens on its own. When we talk about our lifestyle addiction to polluting fossil-fuels and coal, we own our actions and our daily decisions. Instead, we debate the light and airy greenhouse effect of carbon emissions to avoid addressing the actual toxic pollution that is filling our environment every hour on the hour. If our actions are not socially responsible, they are socially irresponsible.
There are no pretty words to describe what we are doing to the ecosystems that support our human existence. Our current situation is the result of pollution and environmental degradation that leads to an abundance of unresolved anger. Other life forms might survive indefinitely without fresh water, clean air and healthy soil. Homo-sapiens cannot.
I really began understanding the power of words when I began exploring the world of spirituality. I was raised in a fear-based religion that still defines me as a sinner with no chance of redemption and a one-way ticket to hell. Today, my spiritual practice is a belief in the natural world where energy becomes form. A tree grows where it is planted and naturally reaches for the sun in order to grow. I am comfortable with my belief in life and simple physics as a power greater than myself, even though conscious evolution and quantum physics might sound sexier. I also believe that Buddha and Jesus and Allah and all great spiritual teachers preach the same message of how importance it is to value all life and take care of each other and let go of our need to control and learn to trust a higher power.
When I discovered the law of attraction, I questioned it like any healthy skeptic until I learned that it is an actual, scientifically-proven physical law. I also believe that Buddha and Jesus and Allah and all great spiritual teachers preach the same message of how importance it is to value all life and take care of each other and learn to trust and let go of our need to control. With this understanding, I am committed to choosing words consciously. I am creating my world.
Our efforts to raise awareness about cancer and ebola and AIDS and other symptoms of chronic unrelieved stress in our society creates more symptoms … and we are using precious attention that would otherwise be devoted to prevention and wellness and love.
During my time at university majoring in Consumer Studies , the most enlightening and useful course I studied was an elective called Marketing 101. I came to understand the process clearly — create consumer demand by scaring the shit of people so they will buy lots of stuff they don’t really need if they already feel good about themselves. A memorable example given to illustrate successful marketing was the introduction of the white-pants commercial that convinced menstruating women they are dirty. My hand was was constantly up questioning the concepts and the rules and I didn’t go unnoticed because my chronic tardiness meant I usually sat in the front row due nearest the door. I found it hard to believe the professor at the end of term when he came over to thank me for attending his class. However, I did believe him when he told me that in all his years of teaching, none of his students had ever asked any of my questions.
When I am writing and publishing, I constantly edit out fear and exaggeration. I am forever grateful to the digital revolution for providing tools that make it easy search and replace exclamation points with the simple full stop. There is rarely a need to shout. I shift don’t into do, should into could, convince into invite, exclusive into inclusive and I replace claims of better and best with clear descriptions that attract and inform anyone interested in the products, services or programs being offered.
A new generation is beginning to question our rules of convenience over conservation, volume over quality, scarcity over abundance and consumption over creation. Witness the recent trends of artisanal products, do-it-yourself design, up-cycled fashion and grow-your-own gardens in tiny plots and balconies and windowsills. There really is more than enough of everything to go around.
It is time to start communicating directly and stop relying on familiar last-minute scare tactics as the call to action. We live in an age where virtual unlimited access to information means everyone can gain understanding. Our ability to connect with people who share our values is unprecedented. We are forming ourselves into powerful communities that drive positive change.
A number of our current operating systems are certainly unsustainable and we tell ourselves that change takes time. Yet we have all experienced how everything can change in an instant — like the moment we leave a job or the birth of a baby. We define a situation using words like loss or gain, restriction or freedom, ending or beginning. The situation is the same but our experience depends entirely upon the words we choose when describing it.
What words are important in your world?
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natural life in the fast lane
Listen to your own heartbeat.
The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin