Words Are Goopy!
These are troubled times, no doubt. And while there are lots of contributing factors, one of them is the fact that words are goopy. Any given word, or set of words for that matter, can have more than one meaning. And correctly so.
So maybe if we practice good communication, in Buddhist parlance, “Right Speech,” we might start contributing to lessening the troubles. For example, there’s a phrase floating around, “Black Lives Matter.” And it is obvious that not everybody gets the same meaning from that phrase. For some people it is the name of a movement whose aim is to eradicate white supremacy, a campaign against the violence and racism so prevalent in our society, an effort to bring justice, healing and freedom to black people. For some, “Black Lives Matter” is an anthem, a rousing and uplifting chant, used to rally the troops, to add energy and momentum to marches. For others, “Black Lives Matter” seems to be something akin to a slogan, a motto, a memorable phase to advertise a cause. Sometimes it seems to be “code” in one language which isn’t “decoded” very well in an other language. And for a lot of people it is a phrase which divides people into “us” and “them.” It pits one group against another. It is an aggressive, in-your-face challenge. Using the phrase, “Black Lives Matter” is a threat.
And for everybody, it points to a problem.
Might I suggest that good communication is important if we are to solve some of the problems we’re facing right now? So if I ask you, “What do you mean by ‘Black Lives Matter’ please don’t get upset. I’m aware that the phase can have many meanings, and I’m wanting to understand what you are saying. If I ask you to define what you mean by “Fake News,” it’s not that I’m disputing what you’re saying, I’m trying to understand what you’re saying.
Bear with me. Be patient. Be kind.
Be clear in your thoughts, words and deeds. Practice Right Speech. It will go a long way in solving our problems.