Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I really like this post because I think something really important is being said.

1. Words indeed carry intellectual/historical content.

2. Shared expectations of that intellectual/historical content is one of the things that makes communication work. Without communication, there can be no community and there can be no peace.

3. The coupling between the spoken/written word and its content is rather delicate. People sometimes "meddle" with the meanings of words, consciously or unconsciously with destructive consequences.

4. The particular meddling I'm thinking of is the reduction of a word to a sort of blunt instrument, a general-purpose swear word for an out-group, a sort of effigy to burn in one's mind and one's speech.

5. There is also the opposite kind of meddling in which a word is idolized in order to lavish praise (or flattery) upon the "in-group".

6. Both of these words become tools for emotionally steering people and undermining inter-group dialog. They are, in a way, idols in the dimension of language (rather than wood, stone, or gold).

7. When you have two groups oriented in opposition to each other, one group's effigy is the other group's idol.

8. Another destructive consequence is the loss of cultural wisdom.

What do these language patterns reveal about the human heart? How can we (at the very least) avoid unwitting participation in this evil? At best, how can we participate in dissolving this "malediction" in order to replace it with authentic communication?

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