I have a problem at the moment. It’s not entirely fixed or centred around one thing. It’s not confined to a single issue or event. It’s more philosophical and linguistic.
My problem is the growth of Adversarial Language – it’s absorption into our lives and its affect on how we think. The best example of this is the use of “versus” which has become so common place in everyday life that it is frightening. Nothing is compared or contrasted anymore, instead it now has to go into battle. Cars, gadgets, TV shows, actors, friends, movies, politicians, policies, religion – nothing can stand on its own and exist within itself. Everything has to be opinionated on, discussed, argued and fought over.
It’s great that everyone has an opinion, and most of us live in a society where we are able to freely express those opinions. But does it actually help or hinder us? Does it divide and put barriers in place? Does it shelter us from meeting and sharing with people who disagree? Does it stop us from seeing the another point of view? Does it stifle innovation and free thinking? Rather than creating an environment of free discourse, does the way we exercise free speech actually construct barriers, walls and bubbles that actually hinders freedom?
I want to live in an inclusive world. I want to work in a collaborative environment. I want to share and learn everyday of my life – a day that I don’t share or learn something is wasted. But I don’t think I live in that world. I don’t think my workplace, my community or my country operate in that way. I don’t think my media operates in that way. I don’t think any commercial business operates that way. I am surrounded by a world that doesn’t think or act that way.
Our language reflects the fact that we as a society have removed the middle ground. We now operate against one another from the extremities. Rich vs Poor, Happy vs Sad, More vs Less, Left vs Right, Right vs Wrong, Faith vs Science, East vs West. What happened to the middle? What happened to the shades of grey?
I think most populations mirror the Bell curve – with people at both ends of the scale, but the reality is most people fall somewhere in the middle. In statistics it’s “normal”. I think society as a whole is “normal” with the balance somewhere in the middle, not at either end of the scale. Life isn’t black and white. It’s not either/or it’s either AND or. We seem to have forgotten how to be inclusive, and in doing so have become myopic and misguided. We think in certainties that don’t actually exist. We religiously believe and place faith in polls and samples that actively remove alternatives and free choice.
Rather than expand our minds we try to contain them. We quest for order when the only reality is change and chaos. We want the world to change rather than change ourselves. We want people to change and become perfect, rather than reflect on ourselves and actively accept flaws as being natural. We see weaknesses rather than strengths, we tend to exploit rather than support. We’ve lost the middle ground – the fact that most of us are flawed, but essentially good people. People capable of great love, but people who go through the full gamut of emotions. People who react and respond in unique and unexpected ways.
I want to change the language I use and change the way I think. I want to act and speak more inclusively – to live in the middle ground in a state where compromise, understanding, acceptance and forgiveness are the norms. Where responsibility and accountability are part of every decision, every conversation, every idea and every opinion. Where there is an acceptance that diversity rather than conformity is the norm. Where people aspire not to live on the extremes of society, but in the “normal” range. Where there is no longer a battle between Less and More, but a peace that accepts Enough. Where Need and Wants are balanced by Haves. I want a life in the middle. Not too hot, not too cold – but just …. nice.