Monday, 11 March 2013

Want better relationships? Start with the words you use.

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Make a list of meaningless phrases and pretty soon you have the modern language of managers and politicians the world over:’utilise’ (how about ‘use’?),  ‘going forward’ (rather than what?!), ‘circle back’ (why not go straight?), ‘synergise’ (who knows?).

As this language has grown up, it has displaced another: a language meant for humans not spreadsheets. It can be found in every language and nation, but in english it sounds like this: mercy, forgiveness, hope, grace, humility, kindness, generosity, goodness.

But when did you last hear these words outside of a place of worship or school assembly?

But this is more than the language of RE class, it is the language of relationships. It is the language of relationships begun (hope) and restored (grace). It is the language of welcoming new members into a group (generosity) and making peace between groups (forgiveness)

And therefore it is a language we need to build a united Britain of different ages, incomes and ethnicities.

How do I respond when my neighbour leaves his rubbish in my bin? The language of forgiveness and mercy gives us the tools to imagine a more difficult and brave response than just cursing under our breath. What should I feel when students move into our neighbourhood? The ideas of hope and generosity provides a richness of response much greater than mere despairing acceptance.

If we want to see our country unified with ages, ethnicities and income brackets connecting and understanding one another, we may need to dust of some relational language.

Moving forward, why not utilise some today and circle back.

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