As has happened before in history, in the middle of the 20th Century, a handful of American leaders used their words to convey ideas that created a mental framework that led to one of the more progressive democratic periods of the our nation. Other social and economic factors helped make those changes possible but words led the way.A short time later, as also has happened before, other leaders used different words to convey ideas that created a very different mental framework. That created a mental lattice that has led to one of the more socially regressive and anti-democratic periods of our nation. Once again, words provided the mental framework necessary for those changes to occur.
How powerful words, and their meanings, are. One must choose them carefully with clear intention. While the course of history may lean toward “the arch of justice”, its intermediate steps can be very bumpy. Done with skill, it is easy to use words to change quickly the values of entire societies. We have learned the hard way that those changes can lead to extreme evil. They can also lead us toward bounteous good. They can benefit a tiny minority, or all of us.
The future of human life on Earth is now dependent upon our creating a sustained state of mind, shared throughout for the world, that recognizes and is aligned with the fact that, for better or for worse, we are all together on this small planet. Poverty, hunger, energy, environment, climate affect us all and require a progressive democratic response that connects us all. We must replace the regressive frameworks that follow from words that, inadvertently or intentionally, convey fear, helplessness, dependency on “higher” authority, and blaming others. Such messages are rampant throughout the world today. They must be replaced in our private and public conversations with progressive frameworks built with words that connect us with each other in ways that are powerful and meaningful in our personal lives in our shared common wealth and common future.
Humanity today seems on the cusp of great change. Many of our current social systems feel like they are falling apart or serving only a few. The status quo seems untenable. Sooner than later global systemic changes are almost inevitable within the lifetime of most of us. That makes it critically important that the world has the words to fit the frameworks that are needed for the foundation of those changes. Today’s writers and speakers are some of the most important leaders of our world since they are the ones we need to provide the words with the mental framework that will make possible the continuation of human life on this small planet.