We have become a society incapable of taking responsibility.
I was speaking with a friend recently who lamented what he called “the corruption or words and language.” He gave as an example a dentist down the street who advertises dental solutions.
But the “corruption of words” that really upsets him is being called “in transition”. He’s been painfully out of work for several years.
He’s searched for work doing what he knows how to do, but has nothing but rejection letters for his effort, and he’s over 50, which means his chances of finding work are slim to none.
He’s not in transition, he’s been ejected from the job market.
Perhaps we’ve become a society that no longer wants to or even can take responsibility for what it produces. The alt-right, for example, is another word for institutionalized racism, but much easier to swallow.
Yet, it seems we’ve been playing this language shell game for some time.
When did civilian deaths in wartime become collateral losses instead of innocent men, women, and children who happened to get in the way? Civilian deaths are a terrible thing, collateral losses are loose change sucked up by a slot machine.
It’s painful to call things as they really are.
You can’t sell root canals, but you can sell dental solutions. We seem to have become a society that can no longer face our dark side or the vicissitudes of life.
All discomfort needs to be assuaged, mollified, turned into something we can stomach or ignore. Steven Pinker tells us that our better angels are winning out, but he fails to take into consideration (and acknowledges it!) that just as work has become non-physical over the last century, so too has violence.
Is depriving a family of their home violence only if the home is burned down maliciously: isn’t the home-deprived family just as homeless when they are evicted due to bank shysterism?
How about letting a person die of a treatable disease because they can’t afford insurance? They’re not less dead than if they’d been shot to death.
We are comfortable and afraid of being uncomfortable, so we live in the “soma” of euphemisms and misty terms that swirl around us without ever touching us.