At a recent awards night I attended I was repeated annoyed by the comment “I’d to thank”. Each time I heard it I wondered why they didn’t thank the person they felt some gratitude towards. Saying something like “Mother, thank you for all the encouragement and support you gave me along the way” would be far more meaningful than saying “I’d like to thank my mother”.
I am finding that, as I age, the way language is used becomes more important. Nuanced statements have more attraction. Militarist and sports metaphors detract from arguments being raised to promote solutions to social problems. Corporate values, expressed in the arguments of grassroots organisations, alienate me. Having been formed in the time of inclusive language and plain language, at a time when activists did not use the arguments and language of opponents but chose to use the language that reinforced social transformation, I find myself lost in a world that makes less and less sense as the years go by.
Housing is not an investment, it is a right. Education is not an investment, it is both a right and a process. Movements for a better world have been co-opted; we have chosen to advocate the values of a less inclusive, compassionate world in the way we describe ourselves and our goals.
Progressive movements have lost momentum for a number of reasons, but part of this is due to giving ground on the language we use when engaging the world. Clarity of language is important; equally important is having the words we use help to bring into practical expression the ideals we hold. Building a co-operative world is not strengthened by promoting competiveness when we talk about the co-op model.