The Power of Language

We are shaped, and shape others through our language. In this morning’s news, UN chief Antonio Guterres tells us “the planet is broken”. I think the sentiment is admirable, but the metaphor misleading.

If we found an abused child, abandoned and wounded, we wouldn’t say “this child is broken”. We would take it into care, find out what has happened, pursue those who brought it about, and do our utmost to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If our home was a broken machine, we’d go out and buy a new machine. To the best of my knowledge, ebay doesn’t do habitable, beautiful planets.

The sentiment is right, we are however dominated by mechanistic, technical language and an obsession with hard data and hard evidence. Whilst we are getting more and more of that regarding the planet, it’s the soft data that is compelling, from weather to biodiversity. Our senses and intuition are screaming at us.

Businesses are not machines, they are organic constructs full of messy complicated people operating in a messy comlex ecosystem. Debenhams and Arcadia haven’t gone to the wall because they are broken but rather through years of abuse by people who didn’t care for them.

We are the most creative beings around, and creativity is not a numbers exercise. Measuring is great, but not enough. We need to respect our instincts and harness our humanity.

We have (barely) enough time, and we have the ability.

It’s down to each of us.

Time to stop busking, and leverage the artists we are.

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