The truth, that we have lost our way, is glaringly evident. Can we find it, after the disruptions pile up?
The leadership we have allowed to lead us down this rabbit hole is leaving permanent scars on the democracy. We need greater vigilance to steer us through this maze and the mayhem. You might say, “but look at the stock market,” and ignore the things you have given up.
A rich country with some 10% of our population likely to not be covered in a health crisis. Health insurance is important and not just for those who are insured. We all pay a toll. There are too many of us too many of us likely to not be able to pay for our children’s illnesses , and living in poverty
The tariff war that has been started will hit you personally in the pocket book, but it will not bring steel manufacturing back to Pittsburgh. It may even make it impossible for cars to be made in our Southern states because the automobile industry depends on imported steel. And cars are not the only item in your budget that will become more expensive.
There are plenty of circuses meant to keep us off guard. The Korean Summit with promises of peace and assurances of success is just one of these trompe l’oeil. A scheduled meeting with Putin is another. Assurances that anyone disagreeing with the administration is pandering so called fake news is a third ring in this circus. Tweets are the messengers, billboards for the disrupt.
The rule of law is being eroded. We, each of us, is being made over into an American less than the person conceived by our Constitution. Democracy is in threat.
Language, well at least until it succumbed to being written, was an unseen organism of communication. In its seen form it can be in black and white or colored print, and may have started as pictograms but has evolved over time. Language, whether in writing or spoken, is an evolving tool whose changes can be subtle. If you have tried wading through Beowulf in ye olde Englisc, you have a sense of where it’s been but no idea where it’s going.
Alphabet, an acronym (not an anagram) from the Hebrew letters opening the sequence of sounds used in writing, aleph bet, defines how we write our thoughts.
We’ve come a long way from pictograms. Alphabet is also the company name for Google, which can be defined as a way in which we research facts to support our ideas. Another tool, google is also a verb for finding just about anything about just about anyone. Microsoft’s search engine Bing never achieved this level of linguist status; you would never say I binged the information on which I base my statements, even though you may reverted to that search tool for assistance.
LOL is not an anagram for a popular brand of butter and eggs, except in my imagination. Land O’Lakes is not funny, although it can be fun. LOL is instead a reflection of how culture influences language. Internet spawned anagrams are legion and often send me scrambling to google (or bing) their meaning.
We use words to express ourselves. What we say and how we say it is important if we expect others to understand us. Those who cannot hear or are mute can sign, as sophisticated a way to tell what’s on your mind as any. Esperanto is one attempt to bridge the barriers that disparate linguistic traditions have created. Life is full of imperfect translations. We lose a lot by not fully grasping what others say.
There are those who extol the virtues of silence but it is hard to mine its gold when we do not understand its meaning. When silence is a way of voicing a grievance, it can be very effective, if not quite golden. One man’s gold is another man’s dross. The ways in which we talk to each other can definitely enrich us.
Slang, with its inventive poetry of iterations and descriptions, is one way in which language grows. It matures and new (younger) phrases emerge. It is hard to keep up with what “cool” or “cold,” “good” or “bad” might mean from generation to generation.
The babel of languages commonly heard on a midtown street in New York City defies easy description. Is that a Slavic language I hear? Is he speaking Finnish? Portuguese is similar and so unlike Spanish. Is that Italian or is that family Argentine? The cacophony is a puzzle and a guessing game.
I have elsewhere lamented my personal loss of my native language, but I have no explanation for the failures of my tongue and my mind in recalling a language I spoke through my teens with some fluency. My assimilation seems extreme. It is of a certainty complete.
My mother spoke five languages, all quite well, and her assimilation into her adopted country also seemed complete in its own way.
It is, in short, possible to keep and honor the past while moving, as language does, into the future.
In some ways, one’s language may reflect a mode of thinking. The way in which our mind assesses circumstances can charge the way we express ourselves. The way in which we express ourselves, in turn, may charge the language we use. It may inform our mode of expression and reflect cultural, personal and intellectual choices. Choices we’ve made in our choice of words and the fluidity of their expression are reflections of who we are.
Having a large arsenal of vocabulary at one’s disposal is an advantage and a privilege. An apt choice of words can become a habit of mind. It can help you replace “I wish I’d said that” as way of recapping a conversation. It can also fram the thoughts you have so that the “um.. uh” is no longer a vocabulary filler.
You want to find the right word on the tip of your tongue to use at will. You also want to exercise variety in the ways you express yourself. A diet of simple, straightforward words can prove as boring (and unchallenging) as if you were eating just one kind of fruit. Reach for the tofu or the steak on occasion. Endulge yourself with a cascade of colorful alternatives. Flex your voice by varying the styles in which you express thoughts. Throw in some street words, toss in an elegant turn of phrase.
Care in your choice of words is as vital as care in your menu or how you conduct yourself in business or in life.
Ethics in business is not only about behaving well or even doing good. It is also about, as the Hippocratic oath would have it, doing no harm.
The quest for an ethical business model continues at Baruch on October 31st with Mary C. Gentile talking about Giving Voice To Values: The “How” of Business Ethics.
The HSBC-sponsored Student Series on Ethics and Accountability has been focusing on issues of corporate standards and morality for some years now. Dr. Gentile focuses on values-driven leadership and helping managers find their way to an ethical understanding of the issues that face their businesses.
Is there a scenario in which values and ethics can become stakeholders in industry and commerce?
Among the issues that troubled Duff McDonald’s and others was the elevation of the investor as the sole stakeholder a company would recognize. The ethical questions that arise from this practice of bowing only to shareholder value may be subtle, but they result in companies paying employees less in order to keep the stock price high, or in wholesale firings for the same end. The other stakeholders in the proposition– suppliers, partnering entities, the community– are ignored. This was one of points in his October 12th presentation at Baruch’s Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity. (See a New Yorker commentary on McDonald’s book for further enlightenment.)