In my head, I keep a list of professional attention seekers. They’re the people who I’ve seen in the media making ridiculous, outrageous, over the top statements. Usually they design their comments to elicit an emotional response and, most of the time, a negative one. They live and breathe to make headlines and develop a following. They aren’t primarily interested in making anything great again. They are mostly concerned about serving their own inflated egos.
Aside from deep questions about their emotional health, all these people share something else in common. It’s something that provides, for us, a window into something we take for granted, and don’t often talk about.
Each one of them abuses the sanctity of language. Language is an incredible gift that allows us to bridge the gulf between one person and another. It is the only thing that does. Without some form of language, we would all be islands, lost to each other whether face to face, or thousands of kilometres away.
Instead, language becomes a way to manipulate and divide. A way to arouse passions with no regard for truth or compassion. Instead of bridging the gap between us, language becomes a weapon for wall-building and destruction. The slow and painful process of illuminating the truth is replaced by the quick and ugly process of obscuring the light.
This doesn’t mean that we can’t make jokes and tell stories and be lighthearted. There is always room for laughter. Particularly because sometimes more truth emerges from a comedian than a preacher.
At the root of it, language is sacred as a tool for revealing truth, whether that’s empirical data, spiritual truth, truer relationship, or a truer sense of ourselves. Sometimes, those truths will be revealed not by the specificity of the words, but by the way they are used. And sometimes, it will be as simple as speaking true words, earnestly.
I make a point of not using the names of the professional attentions seekers as a small resistance to their agenda. But maybe the better resistance is to refuse to use what can be sacred for anything other than a sacred purpose.