Sunday – again. Monday always follows Sunday. Generally, people like Fridays most. I don’t like Fridays. Think about it, I will tell you later. But first I am thinking about language and how it affects our lives – and perhaps the outcome of the Corona Virus or COVID-19.
We went for our walk during the time when the virus is inactive, i.e. 06h00 to 09h00. When we came back, I started this music and, thanks to YouTube, that was the type of music that played all day.
I have read a few books on NLP, even did two NLP courses. As always, I cannot remember a lot, except that language is important. The words we use create our reality. I can vaguely remember discussing language in Philosophy classes.
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.”
– Flora Lewis
“Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.”
– Rita Mae Brown
“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.”
“Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can be only forgiven, not forgotten.” -Unknown
“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
-Pearl Strachan Hurd
“Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.”
We all know we must be careful of what we say, for various reasons. Words can hurt and break down as much as a bulldozer. Once said, words cannot be erased. Words cannot be unsaid. Something to remember when we are frustrated and don’t know whether we can wear crocs or not.
But these thoughts about words and language were born when I read a news report from the Minister of Health about the “fight against the virus.” It is war language, we “battle,” and we “conquer”. Is that why we have armed forces out in the streets, because it is a war? Is that why we see scenes of police violence against citizens?
When I read the article, I had an unease that I could not verbalize. Only when I woke up the next morning did I know what bothered me. We are not fighting the virus. Scientists at Stanford University, Israeli researchers, researchers all over the world, including Bellville and the MRSC are fighting the virus. They are searching for medicines and vaccines. They have engaged the virus. That is the war and battle against the virus is taking place.
The correct language is “we are fighting the consequences and the effects of the virus.” Whole new ball game!
The Government, or in South Africa’s case, the RULERS, are not fighting the virus – they do not have the beginning of knowledge to do so, just like me. What the Governments should be fighting, is the consequences and results of the virus. As I said above, if we want to war, let’s declare war on this.
Perhaps if we stop “fighting the virus” and start “fighting the consequences” we will have less police problems? Perhaps the police will focus more on helping and less on “fighting.” And let’s always the remember, it is a few that reach social media. The majority is helping. Never forget to say “some police are using excessive violence.”
The virus is contagious, very much so. Because it is contagious, it can overwhelm the medical system. The virus is dangerous for high risk groups. The virus cause death in some of the people who are infected. That is the consequences of the virus. Did I miss something? Oh, yes, the virus scares the daylight out of some people.
That is what we have to fight. That is what the government can and should fight. How can we protect the health system – if I can believe what I hear, a lot was done to expand our medical capacity. Tick that box. Well done. We even brought in extra Doctors from Cuba. We provided for extra respirators (although some reports say respirators are not good news). Once again tick the box and well done. Can we do more?
The virus does not cause financial chaos, because the virus does not infect money. Our response to the virus creates financial chaos. I agree we may not have many options when we respond, but we still have to take responsibility for our responses. We need to acknowledge that our responses also have consequences and effects! Don’t blame the virus, but admit “the response that we chose to fight the effects of the virus is causing …” One of the effects of our response is that our great grandchildren will pay the costs. Is that really what we want? If not, how can we prevent this?
If we use that language, we are more likely to look at our responses critically and examine the logic and reasonableness of our actions.
I think that you and I, right up to the Presidents of countries, must be sure that our response to the virus does not cause more harm than the virus. We have to be sure we act on facts and rationally. I know it is hard at the top. I believe in time the scientists will win their war. But we have to wage our war against the consequences of the virus with the least casualties possible.
I am pro-opening the economy – keep the vulnerable people as safe as possible. Quarantine the sick. Keeping myself (vulnerable) safe is my responsibility. I will also do what I can to keep you safe – as I already do with people delivering food and medicine and when I do have to break my isolation. You do the same.
Let’s just use the right language, it may make all the difference!
Oh, about Fridays? I don’t like Fridays, too close to Monday.