Political discourse is fundamental to the operation of nations. It allows us to openly discuss our differences and gives our elected officials the information they need to act on our behalf. Afterall, they are Public Servents who are meant to be representing the collective interest of their electorate. How else do they know what their electorate wants?
But all too often, in recent times, has that discourse turned into rage, anger, and hatred. A hatred that is spilling into facets of life where it is not needed, not wanted, and not productive. The Left despises the Right and vice versa, all for what, to continue the argument? The only common denominator that I can reduce this issue down to is language.
Language might seem simple enough to us now, but the languages we speak have developed over hundreds, even thousands of years. And as our languages have developed so too have we, in a somewhat symbiotic relationship.
Language, Behavior, and Thought. The Symbiosis
Our words, our language, effects our behavior, our thoughts, the way in which we treat others. It reaches far beyond a simple comment said "off the cuff".
language is closely associated with symbolism, and so with conceptual thought, problem solving, and creativity.
While our language doesn't strictly determine our thoughts, the influence that it has on our cognitive process's is drastic. Take for example the Aboriginal people of Australia. Few of the original aboriginal languages had words for "left" or "right", so when it came to navigation, or describing a part of the part of the body, they would say "my east foot" or "go west half a day then north". Before English was introduced to the Aboriginal people this type of language and speech made them hyper aware of their surroundings. Similar concepts are available in other languages. Greek as exampled by the above article, has multiple words for "blue" and so native speakers are more readily able to describe and recognise different shades of blue. The anecdotes to this type of language-behaviour interaction are numerous, I encourage you to investigate more on your own time.
The more we speak of a thing, the more we believe that thing to be true, even if it isn't. Think about how often peoples memories are distorted by changing of tone or singular words in a story. Who do you know who is an exaggerated story teller, with each retelling the same story becomes more and more elaborate, and yet, to the story teller, that is how they remember it. All because of their flamboyant speech.
The more elaborate the words, the more stark the difference. The more we exaggerate our stance to make a point, the more decisive we will be.
The Language of Others Shapes our Perception
It's not just our own internal monologue, or external expressions that can affect how we perceive an idea, an incident, someone else's speech, or anything else that we observe. The words and language of others also determines our own memory, which in turn influences our future actions.
Take for example, a group of witness's to a crime. The Police take statements from the witness's individually as soon as possible from the time the crime was committed. Assume at this point, that the witness's have not had a chance to discuss the incident together. This initial statement is the baseline, the actual facts as remembered by the witness. Now a week passes and the police call in all the witness's at the same time for a second statement, they are in the same room together for a period of time before the first person is called. They start to talk, the different details, the different language used by each person will influence the perception of the incident with others. Eventually key and critical details will be completely different. This difference can then be compared and measured by the second statement to the original baseline.
To illustrate this point, take note of how language is used by a person of authority in the below social experiment. This is how others influence you, and drive you further apart or towards someone else, even without you knowing or thinking about it.
So how does this concept relate to political discourse? Let me put another situation to you. We have a friendly conversation about something we don't agree on, so far we have been able to discuss the topic with relative civility. Then I start to use more aggressive language, for what ever reason, I have some sort of internal justification for the language. It's not over the top, its still respectful, but intense non the less. The conversation ends. Sometime later your friend asks you what you did yesterday, you remember the conversation and you tell them about it. What language do you use to describe the interaction? Am I a bigot? A pig? A self entitled ass-hole? The language you use now will affect this persons perception of me. Some time goes by and now your friend and I meet. They now have a bad impression of me and no matter what I say, no matter how civil I am, I am that bigot you described. Discourse and free flowing ideas can no longer happen, human nature has shut them out because of your influence.
Fancy Words, What do they Mean?
The more that we speak in over exaggerated tones, aggressive tones, fantastical speech about political issues and leanings, the further and further that we will be driven apart. This because of certain "one-up-manship" this is inherent amoungst the prevailing personalitites that tend to lead these political circles.
The below link to from Stanford University showcases various articles which explore the concepts I have mentioned here. Whilst I don't necessarily agree with everything here, the studies mentioned provide the substance to my anecdotes. Overall it drives the point of speech influencing thoughts and actions.
Ultimatly, what all of this is saying is that in an attempt to get the other side of the debate to agree, people have firstly forgotten to listen, and secondly, resort to sensationalising the arguments in order to push their own agenda, societal and human courtesesy be damned.
The Divisive Effect of Left and Right
So what does any of this discussion around language have to do with politics? Everything! In the western world, the more we divide ourselves with language, the worse off we will be, the less we can agree, the less we can negotiate, the less we can advance our society.
With the types of language being spewed in political circles today there is no wonder why our societies are not advancing. People and Politicians are too concerned with "fighting the other side", "slowing the rise of the Left/Right" and all this language is doing is dehumanising the other side, why? Because they don't belong with us? Because their idea's are wrong? All you fuckwits on both sides are doing is driving a wedge between people, between yourselves, between a civilised and productive society.
It's time to stop it with these senseless labels, dehumanising speech, and aggressive stances. No one deserves to be treated the way that people are being treated in these types political and social circles. It's time for you children to open your minds to other ideas besides your own, judge ideas by the morals and standards that we have developed as a society over hundreds years, by the scientific principles that have gotten us this far, not just by what is "hot right now". Listen to others, don't shout someone down because you disagree, listen, maybe they can teach you something. God knows maybe we can all learn something.
Rant ... Over ...
Want to leave your Comrades or our Supreme Author a Spicy Comment? Try out the discourse debate below." "