“Words matter. Stories matter. Context matters. These three facts should be self- evident, but are increasingly blurred through lenses of political partisanship. This is not a glossary of political terms, but it is a great introduction to how our views on issues-and even certain words themselves-can lead to our own isolation from one another as Americans.” – Former ambassador and member of Congress Tony Hall
“In a world where words often do not mean what we assume, Stapilus offers us a treasure-trove of help. The hope is that even if we can’t be on the same page, perhaps we can find our way toward coherent conversation by a common vocabulary.” – Wm Paul Young, author The Shack, Cross Roads, Eve and Lies We Believe About God
We talk past each other. Often.
And the words we use often mean something different to someone else than they do to us.
The failure to consider the meaning of what we say is a problem, because if the words had been considered more carefully, some personal ideas might not have come out – or been formed – the way they were.
There’s been a great deal of talk in the last decade and more about the abuse of facts, or of purported facts: Simply lying about facts has become increasingly flagrant, to the point of mass invention of supposed quotes. (A friend has developed a website devoted to correcting fictitious attribution of often well-known quotes.) The poisoned common well of information is serious trouble for a society that purports to work together in self-government.
But the trashing of words … many of the most basic words in our political language … makes the matter much worse. We rapidly find that we speak in practice not in a common American English but, often, in separate tongues, one for the “red,” one for the “blue.”
So here’s the personal introduction: As a writer, and as writer about politics, I’m sick and tired of it. Consider what follows a call for restoring a common language and concept about our politics – not similarity of judgment, but at least a common line of communication.