Sometimes we need new words to describe the experiences we have and the world we see. Sometimes we have enough. Sometimes we search for words when we don’t need to. A word exists that will describe what we want, but it’s popular definition has taken on a different meaning. In culture, the word we would normally use doesn’t work anymore. So we search for a new word.
But what if the word is important? Like “love”?
We live in a culture in which people fight over the meaning of words in order to secure the upper hand in a conversation or debate. Brands battle to associate their name with others words that evoke a particular set of values. This set of values is described by words. Words whose meaning we tend to assume. But in a world that deconstructs things more quickly than it builds them, I submit that someone has to be caring for the words that are being destroyed in popular discourse.
I will pose two examples.
1) Think of all the people you may know who have been abused or oppressed in the name of “Love.”
2) Think of everyone you know who talks about Love separate from any form of Justice.
Both of these examples pose challenges to what those within the confines of these situations associate with the word Love. To be sure, Love is neither abusive or oppressive, nor can it exist outside of a context of justice.
Therein lies the work, for if we reclaim our language we must go through the work of undoing the damage done in real life. We must be truthful in what is right and wrong. We must not let someone say something that is a lie (especially knowingly), for that not only distorts our language, it can distort our lives.