Dreams of Kindness, Love and Grace
Buzz and Spin
by Carolyn Bolton
Im a word person. Words have been a sensuous companion since I learned to talk. Today, Im a crossword-puzzle-a-day kind of woman. My favorite board game is Scrabble. I make it a point to read something of interest each and every day. I delight in discovering an author whose use of language is particularly enchanting. I read their work aloud, so I can wrap my lips and tongue around the melodic physicality of their word weavings.
Words themselves are neither good nor wicked, but their use can certainly land anywhere along a fairly broad continuum.
Simplicity is a concept with which I found great personal resonance. As the 1990s drew to a close, the simplicity movement was popularized and touted in the media as one of the Top Ten Trends in America. Overnight the term simplicity was pasted across advertisements for automobiles, life insurance policies, money market programs, retirement homes, diet plans and more.
In the dressing room, prior to my filmed guest appearance on the Oprah show in the mid-90s, the producer asked me not to use the term simplicity on air. Instead, my interview would focus on downshifters and downshifting. Why? Because simplicity had become a distorted buzzword without a single, clear notion. Use of the term polarized the listening/viewing audience into bias groups.
The term medical treatmentrather sterile, clinical and impersonalhas been transformed into a system of health care. The new buzzword enables HMOs to dominate the market, despite the fundamental truth that their bottom line depends on mini-mizing patient services to maximize corporate profit. Yet
the re-crafted terminology lends a warm illusion of comfort. Doesnt it.
War spin is rich with persuasive imagery. America has freedom fighters. They have terrorists. U.S. military arsenals constitute our national defense, while much less sophisticated weaponry of other nations is weapons of mass destruction. Gets your blood pumping and your vigilance on full alert just to hear those words!
Pharmaceutical spin is full of language that induces us to swallow prescriptions without a thought. Hormone replacement therapy suggests that something important is missing and must be replaced. Strangely, it is the cessation of estrogen production that places a woman in the natural cycle of life called menopause. Yet hormone replacement promises elimination of the physical symptoms of this normal transition. Mainstream doctors prescribe it pretty much across the board. (As the mother of two beautiful, energetic teenagers
I often wonder why they dont administer hormone suppression therapy to these budding, pubescent two-legged hormone factoriesin a united pharmaceutical effort to keep menopausal single mothers like me from losing their minds! Oh yes. THATs what prozac is for. Almost forgot.)
Acid reflux syndrome is modern designer spin for 21st Century super-size-it American eating machines. Through simple relanguaging, pharmaceutical companies creatively guaranteed a steady client base who regularly pop prescription meds that prevent digestive pain. It sells a whole lot better than the very same pills when used to soothe mere indigestion and heartburn.
I keep looking for viable ways that our American spin machine can work the other direction, to create positive spin that promotes the good of the whole rather than income or power for a few.
Our societys negative judgment of vagrancy in the early 20th Century was transformed by the late 1980s into a legitimate special needs segment of society to whom broad social services had previously been lacking. We began to recognize homelessness and create programs to serve the homeless. Our ability to feel empathy with someone who has no home is easily tapped, while a vagrant is little more than a low life criminal. Wouldnt it be great if our cultures love for buzzwords & spin worked more like this?
Rosa Parks once said, To this day I believe we are here on this earth to live, grow and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people
What precious words are in her message. Words have such incredible power. Wordsthose we choose to let in and those we choose to utterhave immeasurable impact on the quality of our circumstance. On our contentment and fulfillment. On our lessons and the direction of our growth.
If the notion of ending our cultural bent toward using words for spin seems too daunting, perhaps we can focus on creating spina holistic point of view packaged in wordsthat elicits empathy, heightens understanding and strengthens the common good.
Carolyn Bolton is a writer, speaker and nondenominational minister who serves in the professional capacity of public relations and communications staff in the general aviation industry. You may contact Carolyn by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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