This blog posts inspired my project #VoicesofAZ (Orginal post: April 8th, 2010.)
- Pro-Life, Pro-Choice.
- Liberal, Conservative.
- Socialist, Capitalist.
- Freedom, Fascists.
The power of words is an interesting thing. Over the last 10 years, I have worked in many different campaigns: political, educational, marketing and advocacy. We use these words to invoke a response or make a point: to manipulate the outcome of discourse.
They are loaded words. Regardless of your belief, these words are trump cards. Pull them out during a conversation and you will get a heated response. Each person has their own bias to each of the words listed above. Is anyone really ever “anti-life” or “anti-choice?” By the literal understanding of those words devoid of the context in which they’re used, no, but people identify their beliefs to these loaded words.
The die was cast by those, like me, who have spent millions of dollars in ad campaigns, positioned opinion pieces in your daily newspaper and with talking points for the talking heads to which many listen.
Personally, I respect that game because both sides of any argument have the same tools to play it. However, I have grown tired of the consequences of these loaded words in every day, neighborly conversation.
God. Thousands of traditions and faiths have a different understanding of this word. Wars are fought and millions have died over this word. We have all been at that dinner party where the word “God” was used to justify a point. The tone of the conversation changed right? If wars have been fought over such words/concepts then why bring that into a dinner conversation to prove a point? No matter the intent, a reaction will be made. Be mindful of this.
In recent conversations, many supporting Obama’s Health Care Reform Bill have been called Socialist. The concept of Socialism being used to label supporters of a bill drafted and voted on by an established republic is not meant to be literal. It is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.
This is the point. Too often we react or use loaded words to invoke a response versus really, truly listening to another person’s point of view and finding common ground. As a campaign architect, I have seen the damage this has done to every day, neighborly conversations. It pains me.
Voices of Arizona was created to have a discussion about YOUR opinions with the goal to strengthen community dialogue. At the end of the day, we might still disagree, but through the process of engaging in respectful dialogue, we can harness a stronger community. We try hard to avoid such words, or at the very least by mindful of them when we use them.
Be mindful of loaded words in a conversation. They might mean something completely different to the person with whom you are sharing a conversation. Before you use such words, be mindful that it might just be a landmine you are setting down. Is your goal really to blow the conversation up? Because often, such words do.