War on Everything
Posted by languageandgrammar on April 29, 2008
Many of us have heard of the law of attraction, which is the belief that whatever a person experiences is a direct reflection of what he believes. For instance, if he believes that he has to fight for every penny, then he will, indeed, have to work extremely hard to become financially secure. Conversely, if he believes that life is meant to be easy, then a successful endeavor will be attained with little effort.
This is a language blog, not a philosophy blog, but perhaps the two (philosophy and language) should be paired more often. In language terms, the law of attraction is reflected in many of the statements that we make, such as It always rains on my birthday or The Eagles always lose when I watch the game (a reference to the magical results-altering ability that many of us think we have is included in the book, by the way!). Statements such as You’d better be careful what you wish for, You get what you fear, and You get what you focus on do the same thing.
It makes us wonder why, if we truly believe all of these self-fulfilling statements, we would want to frame nearly every problem we have as a “war.” We can’t say that it’s because we don’t think about the semantics of words because we most clearly do; otherwise, all problems wouldn’t be mis-labeled as issues (I know–here he goes again). We know that we’re labeling the war on drugs as a battle. We know that we’re labeling the war on crime as a battle. We know that we’re labeling the war on poverty as a battle. We also know that we’re labeling the potential problems related to global warming as a battle when we refer to it as the war against global warming, which we recently saw in a publication.
Why can’t we focus on a solution rather than focusing on an us-versus-them war-like mentality? Everything is a war. A war means that we’re defending ourselves from attack or that we’re going on attack against an enemy. Is global warming attacking us–or are we attacking the enemy of warming, which we are taking credit for causing? So, does that mean we’re at war with ourselves? And what about the wars on poverty, crime, and drugs, too? Who is this enemy attacking us? Aren’t we the enemy, causing our own problems? Isn’t the problem not a foreign intruder but, rather, the economic, political, and social policies that we, ourselves, enact?
We can focus on solutions without focusing on violence, and we might be happier if we stop labeling everything as a war and following the lead of those in the media and government when they do so.
–Paul and Sherry
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever;
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