We often forget what the impact of the origination of language has meant to the world. Both the written and spoken word have rocketed societal progress, or demise, at hyper speed. By most accounts, communication between humans, in either written or verbal form, has existed for between 50,000 and 80,000 years. The human species has existed in our current form for about 200,000 years.
There is some debate about the time, but these are fairly accurate ballpark estimates. The earth itself is approximately 4.5 billion years old.
So can you imagine that we basically went from the Stone Age to the world of high tech, we have today, in less than one percent of the planet’s life? Language indisputably contributed to this rapid development, for better or worse.
It enabled people to work together, share ideas and technologies. It allowed the formation of a generally agreed upon moral code and, eventually, religion. It basically allowed people to evolve and grow together, rather than each individual, family or tribe to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, each on their own.
Language is nothing more than the labeling of things, actions, emotions and ideas. It creates a word or symbol which has agreed upon meaning among people, thus saving huge amounts of time in communication. When written you have a record or a template.
If you can’t wrap your head around what a huge breakthrough language and communications are, just go to a country (or Florida) where you don’t speak the language and see how long it takes to get breakfast. Is what you eventually get, even you wanted?
I know this all seems mundane and elementary, but we all just take this amazing human technology for granted. Words are powerful.
More importantly, as communications and language subtly change, I think most people miss the ongoing evolution. This is a frightening development. Have you noticed how the meaning of words can suddenly change, seemingly, overnight? Words are hijacked.
Suddenly lying is not lying. Cheating isn’t really cheating. Sex isn’t sex. Most people don’t even notice.
Some very intelligent people have discovered the power of words and communication. They understand the use of language controls people’s thought patterns and behaviors.
People play word games all the time. You can take nothing at face value. Meaning is subjective.
We now have careers in marketing and advertising. Words and imagery are used to illicit behaviors of consumers, voters and citizens. We have the legal system and lawyers which take the use of the language to a higher level, where someone not trained in the language of the trade cannot understand what is and is not legal. They cannot understand a simple contract. They do not understand their basic rights.
Groups, people, corporations, political parties and others energize words or, more often than not, use words to create labels to pigeonhole people and ideologies. Words are used to sort and file us, instead of to unite us.
Language is no longer a tool of communication, it is a weapon used to control thoughts and behaviors.
Think about words; democrat, republican, gay, straight, drugs, medicine, patriot, criminal, hip, nerd, geek, beer, craft beer, luxury, rights, responsibilities, capitalism, socialism, entitlements and on and on. You get a picture in your mind instantaneously, whether accurate or not. Say a word and boom, there is a mental shortcut, an abridged concept of something, that really is not so simple. Nothing is simply black and white anymore.
The use of many words creates an artificial barrier to connection. They make the simple, complex and the complex, insultingly simple. They make people intellectually lazy. They create a template of how you should think, instead of allowing you think for yourself.
We now have an environment of political correctness, a false environment, where anything you say, regardless of your intended meaning and the spirit of your words, can be turned against you or taking out of context. We are one step away from thought crimes.
We have been taught that in polite company you don’t discuss politics, religion or finances. What three topics determine the fate of the planet and humanity more than these three issues? Somehow the idea has been indoctrinated into us, over generations, that you shouldn’t discuss ideas regarding these topics outside your immediate family. Why is that? What is more important than that?
What causes the most strife and turmoil in the world? Religion, money and politics!
You want to change the world? Change the conversation. Don’t talk about the weather. Don’t talk about sports, TV “programming” or celebrity gossip. Talk about what is real; talk about what affects the world you live in.
All you have to do, to engage people on these forbidden topics, is to have an open mind; accept ideas and concepts outside your world view as being potentially valid. Ask questions. Attempt to communicate for understanding; do not view communications as a competition. Repeat the other person’s position to make sure you fully grasp it and then say, what about this idea? See what they have to say about your thoughts and ideas. Have an exchange of ideas. Ideas!
Maintain control of your emotions and understand that both you and the person you are communicating with may encounter some resistance. Coming to find that what you have blindly accepted as truth, might only be your opinion and not fact, can be pretty shattering to the ego.
Truthfully, the most enlightening potential from discussing these topics with people is that if you and they are open and honest enough, you may find you, them or both of you view what you’ve been told to believe with a hint of cynicism or doubt. You’ve both been playing the game being good people, trying to get along, trying not to get pissed off about how things are going, how things are handled, but in the end you generally don’t like it. Or maybe you do?
You don’t want lose family or friends by discussing the forbidden topics? Strike up a conversation with a relative stranger. I am not encouraging you to get into a debate, an argument or a fight, potentially getting your ass beat or worse, but have a discussion. The easiest and most eye opening way to do this is to play the small talk game, find common ground, establish rapport, buy them a beer, whatever. Then simply ask them a question about anything your curious about in the world. “How’s your economy going, buddy?”
I have had my mind blown lots and lots of time, by complete strangers by simply getting into their heads and exploring their world view. It happens all the time. Misty is often my witness or a participant with a third party. It is such a hoot!
The more and more we all have the guts to engage in these conversations, the more you will come to realize that we have so much more in common with our fellow humans than we have been told. We aren’t that different. We all have worries, concerns, problems and sources of joy and happiness.
“Don’t talk to strangers.” This is practical advice for children, but how are you ever going to learn anything new or be exposed to new ideas, if you only talk to your tribe? Your tribe is just another version of you. You might as well talk to yourself (I do this frequently).
Break down the barriers of the bastardization of our language, the labeling of everyone and everything, and have a conversation. Screw political correctness. Have an important conversation with someone, anyone.
The biggest thing you will come away with is a sense of community, a sense of a shared journey and that if we, the people, start thinking and communicating amongst ourselves and not allowing ourselves to be told what to believe, what to think and what to do, we can slowly turn things around in our world.