A war for everything!

A war for everything!

I was waiting in line at a large supermarket today when I noticed a fund raising sign that read, “I’m at war with children’s cancer!”. It got me thinking. Since the 1980’s I have heard countless declarations of war with almost every aspect of everyday life. It seems that if someone wants to raise awareness of an issue they declare war on it. Declaring war it seems has become an international pass time.

Take for example the following declarations of war that I and probably you have personally heard, read and witnessed in some way shape or form, in our media and everyday life:

  • War on drugs
  • War on climate change
  • War on greenhouse gases
  • War on teenage pregnancy
  • War on cancer
  • War on terror
  • War on retail prices
  • War on interest rates
  • War on government spending
  • War on fat
  • War on sugar
  • War on artificial sweeteners
  • War on obesity
  • War on housing prices
  • War on refugees
  • War on ozone depletion
  • War on war
  • War on Zionism
  • War on radical Islam
  • War on radical Christianity
  • War on unwanted sexual contact
  • War on crime
  • War on homophobia
  • War on globalisation
  • War on speeding
  • War on alcohol
  • War on tobacco
  • War on patriarchal society
  • War on blindness
  • War on arthritis
  • War on AIDS
  • War on third world poverty
  • War on famine
  • War on drought
  • War on flood
  • War on industrial pollution
  • War on bad relationships
  • War on child sexual abuse
  • War on domestic violence
  • War on religion
  • War on carbon
  • War on scientific discovery
  • War on low income housing
  • War on poor education standards
  • War on the Opposition
  • War on the Government of the day
  • War on energy, and my particular favourite
  • A war to save the planet…hmm let’s think about that for a second?

For heaven’s sake! There seems to be a declaration of war on every aspect of our human lives.

“So what?” you say, “It’s just a word Allan”.

Well, for those of you who have seen me deliver my work you know that I put a lot of importance on words and language, and you have seen the difference this has made to your life and to others in your life. It is for this reason that I wish to bring attention to this war declaration phenomena and its ramifications for our everyday lives and what I believe to be the future of society.

You see, there is NOTHING more powerful in life than words. Yeah…sticks and stones and tanks and bombs and all that nonsense, but words are what create situations, outcomes and futures. Most importantly, they create and destroy societies. Don’t believe me? Then speak to any Rwandan about the word cockroach. Also ask yourself this question, “Why do governments make laws?” Every government around the world puts pen to paper as a major priority to their term in government and these laws are about altering the present and creating the future (oh yeah, and winning votes and staying in power). Just have a look at what is going on in Australia today with the Carbon Tax debate.

Need more evidence? Then ask yourself this question on a more personal note, “Why do I speak?” Are you not seeking to alter, influence or contribute to the situation relating to the words you are speaking?

Words generate actions. The language that we use therefore is of the utmost importance to the lives we live. Take this following example:

The other day my wife and I were walking out of our local shopping centre where we ran into a young couple who were quite obviously having some communication and behavioural difficulties. There was a lot of swearing, yelling and the shoving of a trolley with the intent to cause physical injury. They were obviously very angry with each other.

What became apparent to Deb and I was that this couple were in the throes of breaking up. How did we know this? By the language they were using. The young man appeared to not want the young lady to leave him, but his language was creating a situation that gave her no choice but to leave. Her language in turn gave him no choice but to feel inadequate as a partner. Their words were being followed by demonstrative actions of their meaning and intent. Walking away, throwing things, swinging of bags to cause injury, running away, chasing. It really was quite a demonstration.

I commented to Deb, “Just speak nicely to each other” in reference to the couple. Deb pointed out that they were frustrated and in their frustration they could not find the right words. They were communicating their frustration very well.

Now folks, I have had the benefit of a weird and wonderful life and worked in the field of welfare/child abuse investigations among other things and I have seen the absolute worst of human behaviour as a symptom of a dysfunctional society, and I have to tell you without a shadow of a doubt, words and the language we use create the world we live in.

Now let’s look at these declarations of war and answer this simple question, “Is the world at war?” Physically there are currently 17 armed conflicts in the world. Hundreds of thousands of unreported civilians have died, will die and millions will be displaced because of the declaration of war. Look at the impact upon the citizens of Mexico as a result of the declaration of war on drugs.

When we realise how words alter our thinking, our behaviour and our lives, there are questions I feel we must ask ourselves in relation to the war declaration phenomena. Especially if this language enters our everyday workplaces, where people of all walks of life come together with their individual histories and world views shaped by their life experiences.

Is it possible to generate an appetite for war within a society, yes it is. Is it possible to desensitize a population not involved in war to war, yes it is. All you have to do to achieve these two outcomes is mention the word war in every aspect of life. Soon enough the word war and the concept of war becomes part of our everyday existence and we believe that war symbolises righteousness. War becomes normal! When was the last time you got upset, felt uneasy, had a vision of someone being killed, maimed even, when you heard the word war. I bet you can’t remember. You can’t remember because you probably are already desensitized to this word, that in its crudest meaning is to kill another human being. In its proper definition it means “a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation”

Ladies and gentlemen, do we really need to declare war on something to raise attention to it? Have you or your organisation declared war on poor performance, safety, staff retention, succession planning or on the budget?

What would our men and women in our armed forces who have seen war first-hand think about these ridiculous declarations of war? Making the concept of war a normal part of everyday life does not generate a caring and compassionate society.

The following video is a very clear demonstration of the effects of war.  It is shocking and I warn you it pulls no punches: Shell Shock

Lest we forget the meaning of the word and use it correctly for our words and language shape our lives and our society.

Written by Allan. Posted in Workplace & Personal Relationships

Tags: , , , ,

Trackback from your site.


Hi, I'm Allan, the Director of Beyond IQ Pty Ltd. My goal is to provide you with insightful and thought provoking material. I hope to inspire you to start or join the discussion below and to keep coming back. I believe that conversation will inevitably lead to a greater truth, and I want you to be a part of it. Get to know me a little better. Find me on Facebook, add me to your circle on Google+ or join my professional network on LinkedIn

Leave a comment