It’s more like a war on words to determine who gets to ‘own’ key words and catch phrases so as to purposefully distort the intent behind their previously agreed upon meanings. For instance, take the phrase, The Right to Life.
Aren’t we all Pro-Life –– at least theoretically? Yet, these words have been co-opted by those who are so-posed to be defending the ‘rights of the unborn child’ –– while offering no support whatever to the mother during her pregnancy or the child before and after it is born.
Once these glaring omissions are made central to the debate, we easily see that this righteous sounding phrase thinly veils the desire to exert control over a woman’s body and thus, the means of production of humanity. Can we truly leave such a power in the hands of a ‘mere woman’ –– is the real question being asked by the patriarchy. And the resounding answer is, ‘Of Course Not!’
I recall the words of a German general in the late 1970’s decrying the widespread use of birth control pills. ‘What about the armies of the 90’s,’ he asked in alarm? Whatever the mix of motives and passions of those who believe that every fertilized egg should be carried to full term, it certainly isn’t about the Right to Life –– Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for Everyone.
In my view, to intentionally misuse language to mislead in any way should be perceived as a violation of a primary tenet in a basic Code of Ethics: ‘Thou shall not use the sacred power of the Word to deceive or disadvantage anyone.’
Here’s a powerful statement by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., a renowned 19th C physician, poet, and highly educated influencer in his era:
“Life and language are alike sacred. Homicide and verbicide –– that is, violent treatment of a word with fatal results to its legitimate meaning, which is its life –– are alike forbidden.”
Imagine what would happen if popular momentum in support of this tenet suddenly grew –– like other social movements. Then, violators of public trust through the manipulation of language would be immediately exposed, disgraced and removed from public office –– ideally, at the cost of their ill-gotten influence and affluence. This could rapidly bring down whole governments and corporations with only the Upstanding left standing!
Today, so many words no longer mean what we thought they meant, and the party banner we stand under no longer really stands for the principles we espouse. Thus, I believe it is time to let go of the empty words and meaningless banners and stand for our own Truths and on our own record of fidelity to our values. Then, we’ll be in a far better position to assess the suitability of those who propose to serve our interests by holding public office. Are they truth-tellers or propagandists? Their records tell the tale.
Time for us all to stand for Truth, Beauty and the Compassionate Regard for All Life –– and to stand for nothing less.