THE IDES OF FEBRUARY 2018
For the last month or so, I have emphasized the cooperative underpinnings of language. Along with the benefits which developing this tool allows humanity to enjoy. It is my belief that our need for one another. It insures our group survival. And it helped bring about our complex verbal communication skills. This might be the most important paradigm shift of our existence. Which perhaps made possible humanity’s gregarious nature. And likely spurred the need to trust others to assure survival.
Inherent in that association was the understanding that the information we discovered and shared; was reliable. As the knowledge came from the other members of the group. We have spent millennia improving our tools of communication. So now, like many other tools; language has developed highly specialized capabilities. These improved skills allow possibilities far beyond the simple transmission of facts and beliefs.
However, there is a primary aspect of information sharing among people, as expected by people. This being that the representations being imparted are valid. There is also the expectation that the information shared is to help the group. For the goal of relating data; which is then accepted as the truth. In short, people expect and rely on each other for the truth about the information they exchange. Indeed, absent that mutual understanding and expectation; our society cannot function as it does.
We trust the baker when says the bread has no wheat in it. And we expect the bread, in fact, holds no wheat. When the boss says pay-day is on the eighth of the month. We expect we will, be paid on the eighth of the month. When our neighbor tells us the letter carrier has made deliveries today; we count on this being factual information. Each day, and every day; verbal exchange, after verbal exchange, we trust one another. We trust other people to honestly relate the facts of the endeavors facing us. This trust is a fundamental element of our ability to shape the future.
Today we see increasing examples human behavior which belies that trust. Spreading misinformation is becoming a preferred tactic, by some people, for advancing their goals. Even when it is to the direct detriment of others. Most people understand that there are those who are willing to flatly misrepresent the truth for personal gain. But they don’t usually go through life expecting to encounter these kind of misleading statements.
People predisposed to believe one another. And that is one reason why well-told lies are so effective. It is that they occur less often than the passing of correct, or meaningful information. It is requisite that this trust-based heritage among people remains more-or-less intact. When it does, it serves to advance common human goals. This assures our culture, and society can continue to grow.
However this will change if false information, misstatement, and blatant lies undermine our trust. As deceit becomes more prevalent, more expected and more accepted; suspicion and mistrust grows. If this trend continues, reliable communication will damage our society. And trust in sharing accurate, reliable, and relevant facts; must weaken. Such a change can, over time, unravel the cooperation which ties us together.
Mutual trust is the common glue and main resource we need to build our safety, and protect our future. For the underlying trust between people is vital for a healthy society. Without it, our way of life risks being severely affected. While our gregarious nature risks being destroyed. This is not a utopian call for blind trust. Nor for suspending common sense. Rather it is a reminder that how we use the language each day, is shaping the path we ultimately follow.
So the way we speak to the world contributes to the way the world becomes. It is also a reminder to not abuse the system of trust which has served us so well. It remains a precious bond between people. And is a recommendation to not use our language to abuse each other either. It weakens us as a society. And we need each other; to stand together against challenges we don’t even know of yet.
J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc