This morning on the BBC website I read a headline that refered to the United States calling the protests in Egypt a 30 year unrest. This has stuck with me all day because it strikes me as a decided slippery use of terms and a recasting of the United States’ involvement with Egypt. The United States until about a week ago supported Mubarek and there was no designation of his regime as being an “unrest”. He was a soft dictator who offered some degree of relative peace in a volatile region despite that he was becoming more and more autocratic over the last twenty five years.
I ate an energy bar a little while go. They have a certain amount of nutrition but just supply calories. So calories=energy and hence the name. Bit slippery but not too bad.
What about the word “love”? To my mind it means that I admire someone, care deeply for them, have affection towards them, and want good things for them. Their interests are of concern to me. The word to me is a gift to express how I feel for someone and is a pact that I will do what I can for them. I don’t ever say it lightly and I am aware that it only means I have those feelings. It does not imply reciprocity. However, I seem to be one of the few people who have a definition of the word. When I have asked people what the word means to them, I have received blank looks. Sometimes they answer by saying, “love is love”. Sometimes it means a huge number of things. What do you think the people who will be giving Valentine’s cards next week mean by love? They are infatuated? Want sex? Have deep and constant feelings of affection? All of the above? None of the above?
What about the word “villain”? What is a villain? Someone who does bad things? Who defines “bad things”? What kinds of bad things? Does context make a difference? If a person is a dictator are they always a villain? Is a socialist a villain according to the rhetoric bandied around in the United States by members of the Tea Party?
What about the word “special”? Sometimes special means unique. Other times it is an exclusionary insult.
The use of words frames how things are interpreted and the wielding of words does not have to fall only to those who would manipulatively use them. Questioning meaning and the connotation and being clear in regards to meanings can create greater understanding.