It’s been a while since my last BforBirgit post, but in the true colourful and free spirited fashion as I set it out to be, BforBirgit has grown into a space for me where I can share my views, insights and life-lessons whenever I feel the urge to and on whatever matters to me at a certain time. Today is one of those days and I have to get a few things off my chest regarding some alarming headlines I have been coming across recently!
- We have a problem with plastic bottles
- Experts define obesity as a disease
- Have smartphones destroyed a generation?
- What is littering? Effects of littering on humans
That’s a lot of worrying news, encompassing quite a few problem areas, and potentially constituting quite a few threats to… well, to humanity!
However, the most alarming thing to me is this:
These headlines sound as if all our problems are caused by external forces or things. As if the plastic bottles, the diseases, the phones and the litter are the culprits that are doing ‘bad things’ to us humans. The human link, in other words ‘our responsibility for these bad things’ seems completely missing!?
Although the full versions of these news articles may point the finger towards us (humans) more clearly, I believe that most people these days merely scan news articles and, in most cases, stop reading after the headline (like I did) … especially when the headline seems to imply that something is out of their control – and rather in the plastic bottle’s, the disease’s or the technology’s.
I feel that quite similarly there are areas – or headlines – where, whilst the human involvement is not denied or forgotten, a perception that something is only some human’s responsibility (e.g. the government’s) has crept into our society.
We don’t have a problem with plastic bottles – plastic bottles can’t make decisions – we have a problem with human beings!
It’s us humans (even though not all of us), who
- produce (and buy) too much plastic (and that driven by consumerism and a profit-first mentality, two widespread man-made ‘diseases’ themselves)
- dump rubbish carelessly (also called ‘littering’, i.e. rather than something that happens to us, littering sure-enough is an action carried out by human beings)
- consume too much, or also too little, or also abuse substances and things such as food, alcohol or technology. (I even believe that people can be addicted to accidents or illnesses, however that would be a debate for another post!)
- don’t take responsibility and feel entitled to things – either from life itself, or the government and similar more.
In other words, it’s destructive and careless attitudes and victim mentalities that are the real problem and disease of our time, and I believe that the root cause of these diseased mindsets is our disconnection to humanity itself.
What is humanity and what does it mean to be human?
A look in the dictionary offers the following synonyms for the qualities of being humane: compassion, brotherly love, fellow feeling, humanness, kindness, kind-heartedness, consideration, understanding, sympathy, tolerance, goodness, good-heartedness, gentleness, tenderness, benevolence, charity, generosity and many more.
Looking at synonyms for humanity itself, the kind and benevolent core seems even more inherent and obvious:
Humanity = humankind = human+kind = mankind = man+kind
Does being connected to our humanity, to simply be human, solve our problems?
I believe the answer is yes! We simply need to care!
- put rubbish in the bin
- produce/buy less plastic
- appreciate our environment
- respect our bodies (and feed them accordingly)
- put kindness first
- put peace first
- put humanity first
How can governments, organisations, and how can language help us (re)connect to our humanity?
To start off with the language bit, I re-wrote the above headlines:
- We have a problem with humans dumping waste carelessly
- Experts define obesity as a man-made eating disorder
- Has our over-consumption of smartphones destroyed a generation?
- What is littering? What are the effects of our (littering) actions to the environment?
Other common headlines (often found on signs everywhere), which could be revised are:
- “Fly-tippers will be prosecuted” could become “Please care about our environment and put your rubbish in the bin”
- “Rude behaviour and abusive language will not be tolerated” could become “Be kind and respectful to our staff. They are here to help and always do their best.”
I believe that being clear about the human culprits (in other words, our responsibility) and focusing on kindness (= being human), brings a completely different feel to all these headlines and messages, and I’m not saying that our diseased mindsets would disappear magically overnight (although I do believe in that sort of magic perspective shifting). However, I do believe that if we all, but particularly leaders all over the world – whether the organisations they are leading are countries, villages, private or public businesses or also families – paid more attention to our language and the words we are using, we could (and would!) be planting different seeds. And as a result reap different fruits.
Seeds, which (re)connect us to our human-kind and good-heartedness. Because no law, machine or otherwise technology will ever fix problems, which we humans created by NOT caring, respecting, appreciating, forgiving, honoring, loving, believing, trusting, … and by forgetting what it means, in fact what it feels like and what it IS, to be human!
B-for-Birgit, that’s me, Birgit Diggins, Founder and Lead Consultant at Power-Words, one of my colourful and free-spirited business ventures, where I help organisational and social changemakers make their words more powerful and work harder.