Language and Power
Language is one of the most foundational aspects of humanity. Rita Mae Brown describes language as “the roadmap of a culture” because “it tells you where its people are from and where they are going.” Language encompasses so much of who we are as individuals and as a society, yet many never stop to think about the role of language beyond its function in communicating. Rita Mae Brown further explains that “language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.” If language is indeed so compelling, then, as Franz Fonan put it, “mastery of language affords remarkable power.” Our use of language can help us to connect with significant others and potential business partners. Our use of language could be the difference between a passing or failing grade.
It could also be the difference between getting hired for a job and being rejected as an applicant. Angela Carter characterized language as the “the instrument of domination and liberation.” In other words, language can be used to edify, but it can also be used to exploit. It is up to us, as individuals and as members of society, to choose the ways in which we use language and the power that it carries.
Issue #2: Freedom and Security
When debating the balance between freedom and security, it is often noted that Benjamin Franklin once declared: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This tension between freedom and security continues to increase in light of the ever-increasing role that technology plays in our professional and personal lives. Speaking to the impact of technology, Misha Glenny asserted that, “the Internet has fashioned a new and complicated environment for an age-old dilemma that pits the demands for security against the desire for freedom.” Whether it be larger issues like cybersecurity and terrorism or a more personal issue such as monitoring our children’s online activity, the tension between freedom and security is always present. Perhaps, one of the greatest challenges that we face personally and as members of a global society is balancing our need for freedom with our need for security.
Issue #3: Health and Wealth
In our capitalist society, there seems to be ongoing obsession with money and material wealth. Everything from social media to rap music to reality television seems to fuel our desire for more money and for more things. Money and material possessions are central to our understanding of what it means to be wealthy. Contrary to this ideal, Mahatma Gandhi explained that, “it is health that is real wealth, not pieces of gold and silver.” While most would agree that healthy living is important, it seems as though our desire for health is often secondary to our quest for wealth. As A.J. Reb Materi put it, “so many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.” This begs the question, what exactly is health? Furthermore, what role does wealth play in living a healthy life? One would only need to walk through the organic section of the local grocery store to realize that healthy living can be quite costly. In the same way, one would only need to review a recent medical bill to see that not living a healthy life can also be quite costly. As a society and in our individual lives, we must find ways to reconcile our need for health with our quest for wealth.