For some years now my ears have been pestered by hearing certain oft-repeated words and phrases in the media and also in the speech I hear in my community. Here I present some of these in alphabetical order, with the idea that sometimes we may want to change our speech to reflect our thoughts more truly. Of course all this is from my own biases and opinions. The author may add items from time to time.
Dedicated to the late great Molly Ivins, whose humor and writings were of invaluable aid to me in preserving some sanity through the late 1900’s.
addiction. At some point I learned that “addiction” means addiction to a substance; therefore if on is referring to a dependency on another habit having detrimental effects on one, it is not actually an addiction. So, we can call it co-dependency, habit, uncontrolled gambling, or hoarding, or over-eating, etc.
average (citizen, or Canadian), also “ordinary,” or “everyday” Canadian. We are often called “average Canadians” in the media, especially by those who want us to listen to their ideas and opinions. I experience a little cringe every time I hear this, or “ordinary” or “everyday Canadian.” Is not this an insult? Are not all citizens special, unique, outstanding in some ways? Why not just say “Canadians” “or citizens”? To my ears “average” etc. implies some notion of social or financial standing. It can imply that the one speaking is not average or ordinary: the listener is.
battle with cancer; lost their battle with cancer, etc. This one really gets me. Cancer doesn’t start wars, and isn’t a disease, but a condition. There are various causes that can produce the condition, some of them being human-induced toxins and poisons into our environment and food, medications and other things we consume or to which we become exposed. Some cancers are related to genetics. When things make us ill, get our system out of balance, it is a working with that situation that one does–in all its aspects. If one dies from cancer or from whatever, death is not a battle, but a part of this miracle of life/death–this blessed mystery of our experience. If we are ill and do everything we can to be healed from the illness, that is not necessarily a “battle.” especially if it brings us closer to that which we value and love.
capitalism. Sometimes capitalism appears to be linked with political systems such as democracy. What we have now in our world is mostly rampant capitalism, which cannot really exist with democracy, as it creates a growing divide between the rich and poor while at the same time bringing global power in many forms to corporations, and to richer countries. There is nothing in the US or the Canadian Constitution that mentions capitalism as a part of the organization of the state.
cave...cavemen (persons). If one used the word “caveman,” (people), what do they actually mean? I have the thought that they may mean some half-human who lived in some unidentified era in the past and didn’t know enough to scrap together a tent or whatever. There have been, I suggest, some occasions in the past when catastrophic flooding forced people and animals to higher ground and caves would have provided safety, hopefully. Before such cataclysms those people may well have lived in very well-planned cities or communities with very admirable sets of values and social systems. Indeed there are many evidences of very advanced ancient societies around the world which we cannot yet explain.
civilization. What are the implications of this word, and of the word “uncivilized”? My dictionary gives the first definition as “an advanced stage or system of social development.” It does not define “advanced” or “social development.” It seems we do not really have any idea what civilization means, and it could be that it has a mostly limiting function when used. It can be used to imply that one’s society is civilized as opposed to another which is not. If we do not know what the word means this can lead to a supposed superiority or advancement over others, often without having really known the other.
climate change. This term has been used for some years now even though it conveys what is but one result of human-caused drastic earth changes: plant and animal species extinction, pollution of land water, oceans, air and atmosphere; sickness, cancers, drought, famine, mass migrations producing millions of migrants and refugees. Is not use of the term “climate change” a denial of the enormity of what human design is undoing, and the crucial need to make enormous changes in policies, economies, in supporting each other and all life? The way to sustainability is complex and demands working together. There are other terms being used by some for this time of our Mother Earth in crisis due to forces resulting from some of humanity having lost a vibrant relationship to Her.
collateral damage. Now isn’t this a polished version of violent death, state murder? And casualty, the same. Why do newscasters not tell the naked truth: this is gory murder, dead bodies, the blood and guts of violence and war, of genocide and coups. It is not some lifeless toy or briefcase left on the side of the road.
death. Use of this word often implies a great loss–loss of Life. Yet life includes death. The two are not opposites. Can we find a word that encompasses the great experience from in the womb through birth, the years that follow, and the journey to the last breath? We enter the womb and are born knowing not from whence we come. We live, and just like other living creatures, fungi, plants…part of living is that life ends so that other life can flourish. My preference would be to have a word that means “life/death,” with the idea that it is all a blessing and a natural process. And death does not mean the spirit we have brought to this life is suddenly gone. Our hearts and minds carry the spirit of many who have died to whom we are very grateful. Life/death is a sacred experience–all of it. We cannot die unless we have been born, and vice versa. So there is no death in and of itself, but life/death.
defense. So many times we hear the word “defense” defending a country’s military/industrial budget. So, how much of that budget goes to offensive purposes rather than “defensive?” And what percentage of the total national budget goes toward military and related enterprises? Does that country produce and stockpile nuclear and other cataclysmic type weapons? Nuclear weapons are now in the process of being made illegal according to the activation of the UN ban on them. Of course only the nations which have signed the ban are obligated to follow it–and guess which nations have not signed it!
democracy. What does this word imply in our times? In Canada many eligible voters do not vote, and many people find it too hard to be able to vote though they may wish to do so. There are so many different national constructs in countries that identify as democratic. What power do the people have, up against corporate or institutionalized “power”? I suspect that many citizens graduate from high school with little idea of the rights and responsibilities of participating in democracy. However, these rights and responsibilities must be understood and taken seriously for a democracy to endure.
emissions. When CO2 and methane and other toxic emissions are mentioned in the media my mind goes straight to oxygen. As Earthlings we know our more recent ancestors had a great deal more oxygen in the atmosphere than is available to us today, and we know that it has been mainly human endeavors that have produced this very dire situation. And it is humans who must remedy this if it can be remedied. From Peter Tatchell, in The Guardian, August 13th, 2008, “The oxygen crisis:”
Evidence from prehistoric times indicates that the oxygen content of pristine nature was above the 21% of total volume that it is today. It has decreased in recent times due mainly to the burning of coal in the middle of the last century. Currently the oxygen content of the Earth’s atmosphere dips to 19% over impacted areas, and it is down to 12 to 17% over the major cities. At these levels it is difficult for people to get sufficient oxygen to maintain bodily health: it takes a proper intake of oxygen to keep body cells and organs, and the entire immune system, functioning at full efficiency. At the levels we have reached today cancers and other degenerative diseases are likely to develop. And at 6 to 7% life can no longer be sustained.
enemy. Often in the media I hear the word “enemy” used, usually referring to a nation said to be an enemy of another nation. I do not identify with the word “enemy” used this way. I have no enemies, nor do I see a nation as having enemies. Such an idea only furthers the tendency to think of the other as separate rather than someone, some nation to get to know, to understand by sharing peacefully–all thoughts of “enemy” put aside.
environmentalist. Grrrr. I long ago was tired of hearing people like me being called environmentalists. This word separates people from Nature, does it not? And do not we who are doing what we can to save some Life on this planet make no separation between ourselves and our ecological systems? We are Nature; our existence depends upon Nature, whose biggest threat is from human doings. Many human endeavors are trying to destroy Life, whether this is a conscious process or not. I aim to live as a devotee of Sacred Gaia.
fake news. OK; why do we allow this term to be used? Since when was NEWS fake? Sometimes a newscaster may have been given the story wrong, yet such things are then corrected in the media. There is such a thing as a lie, or a false claim. Calling something fake news seems to open a way for confusion. Of course I do not remember this term being used before a certain person occupied a certain office.
fossil fuels. Much of what is termed fossil fuel is actually made up of oil products deposited on Earth by comets or other passing bodies. As presented by Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky, the burning deposits flew down to the Earth causing such pollution and darkness that much of the life on our planet was wiped out. At the same time the comet approach caused volcanic fires and ash. Ironically, now 41 years after Velikovsky’s death we are struggling with the consequences of our unconscious repetition of killing life on Earth from centuries of more and more burning of these fuels.
free trade. Free trade among nations is trade that does not restrict imports or exports. It is the free market idea applied to international trade. However, many countries using free trade impose tariffs to imports and subsidies to exports. Free trade is mostly separate from the practices of fair trade, which emphasize fairness to employees in matters of wages, ability to join unions, and absence of slave labor, sexism, abuses of child labor, and other worker rights. Fair trade has been developed to help laborers in poor countries benefit from having fair working conditions and wages. Because of different labeling as to “fair trade” items, there is some confusion as to the exact specifications of the label.
freedom. fought for our freedom. This I would say is a much overused term which has actually lost its meaning. I hear it used to refer to veterans of the two World Wars, of the Korean War, Viet Nam, of Afghanistan. Does the fighting and sacrifice of our military and that of other countries have anything to do with our freedom in North America? And then, what do we mean by “freedom”? We hear over and over about those that sacrificed for their country in war. Often added to this is “so we could be free.” Even if this were true, there certainly are many other ways to gain freedom which do not cost millions of dollars and kill thousands of people–that don’t involve destruction, hunger, pollution, rape, slaughter. How many of those deaths happened because one country wanted oil? because one wanted land, minerals, water, seaports? Let us be honest and realize we do not need to coat malicious things in respectable dress. I question the educational system around these terms, as we need to be teaching students to think things out for themselves. Right now as I write this there are people in the world and right here saying they are free not to follow guidelines for helping prevent the spread of Covid 19. How much discussion have we actually had as a society on freedom and social responsibility in a democracy?
god. A very nebulous word. From what I could find this was a Greek word which originally referred to small figurines in an ancient Greek household which represented the gods (and I assume of different genders) of that particular family. There are so many uses for this word in so many different traditions that by itself, I should say, it has no actual meaning. If we do not want to use this word it can be a creative and self-educating process to come up with alternative words to express what we really mean where before “god” may have been used.
gold. This has been the cause of death, destruction, conflict, jealousy, coveting, suicide and other sad happenings. The thing is, actually gold is just a metal…with no inherent worth such as some nations have placed upon it. It looks pretty, so it has become this crazy standard that tells countries how rich they are. (!!??). So really, it is no more special than its rhyming words such as “bold, fold, cold, mold, old, sold, hold, rolled…..” What’s the big fuss about?
homeless. When we hear or use this word what thoughts go with it? Is homelessness a necessity in our North America, our area, our town? We are creatures born on this planet and all humans deserve and need a home–is that not understood? The city of Medicine Hat AB, Canada decided to eliminate homelessness: it was actually a very simple thing–we have homeless people, and we will give them homes. Then we shall have no homeless people. There is no NEED for people here to go without suitable shelter, period! A society cannot be healthy if all its people do not have life’s necessities.
honor killings. For some years now when this term is used in the media it has impacted me in ways that are disturbing–not just because of the outrageous acts to which it refers, but due to the use of these words. Why does our society even sarcastically use the term “honor” to designate something so dishonorable? “Murder of a family member” with the dishonor going to the murderer(s) would do it some justice, no?
human nature. When this term is used it is most likely with one person’s definition about some inevitable trait ascribed to all humanity, such as a failing of some kind. I think this is very limiting and actually poisonous. As if it had to be proven, it has been shown through studies that what gives us pleasant feelings is to show kindness toward others. That actually IS a human trait. Trauma can change our brains, and trauma over generations, over millennia even, can change the brain so that we act in ways which can be destructive; this is not human “nature,” as we now know that changes can be made in our brains. Thus healing can change our thoughts, emotions and actions.
hybrid. These days the word “hybrid” can actually mean a non-living thing, i.e. a car, or other mechanical devices. Personally this offends my sense of things; if something is bred, it is a living thing conceived or otherwise engendered by living organisms. Why are inanimate things able to use this nomenclature?
ice age. If an “age” be a few hours then maybe “ice age” could have a meaning. Some of us catastrophists posit that the ice around our planet which has be melting at very fast rates for over a century was nearly instantly deposited from a foreign body passing close to Earth. Many put the date for this about eleven thousand five hundred years ago, and others around six thousand. The thing about science is that it always brings new theories based on new evidence. We hear the term “ice age” often, yet it may not exist in the way the term conveys. Yet the mammoths WERE buried instantly in the snow/ice while feeding on tropical plants (I say loudly)!
irregardless. Now here is a “word” I never thought would get into a dictionary, but now tragically, it has landed there! What it means is the opposite of what it reads. Is this setting a precedence? Shall we misstate other words that actually signify the opposite of what we intend to say, and then by and bye have them come to be words which are useless, not needed…i.e., there already is a good word for this which is how this darn word came about? An example could be: create an unnecessary word for “useful” that would derive from the word “useless,” such as “nonuseless.” Oh well–I’ll just cross it out if I ever have a dictionary with the above word in it.
junk food. Well, for this one all I have to say is that if it is junk it cannot be food. Organic non-GMO edibles are the only foods fit for humans–that’s just the way it is. In other words, most of what is there called “food” in a grocery store is not actually food.
ladies. As a female living in the 1900’s and 2000’s I take exception to this word. Does not a lady receive her title upon marriage to a lord? When someone used the words “ladies and gentlemen” why isn’t it “ladies and lords” (duh), or gentlemen and gentlewomen”? Tell me, please! “Women and men (and non-gendered),” “people,” “folks” would have worked, and now we use words to honor non-binary and transgendered, etc. Still, don’t call me a “lady.”
mars. 1). Mars is the planet which has an orbit next out from the sun beyond Earth. In popular culture it is sometimes viewed as a place humans could visit and even inhabit. This idea dismisses the fact that we are earthlings, not marslings, and it supposes somehow the desolate aspect of that planet could be a place conducive to our well-being. Actually, we are completely dependent upon our Mother Earth. 2). A candy bar.
mental illness. What is this term used? I find it quite insulting. The term is used for many things such as self-esteem, feeling states, post-traumatic stress, energy states. And what does the “illness” part mean? Post-traumatic stress is actually not a disorder, but a natural human response to stressors. A study I read about years ago found that about 94% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other such problems had be sexually abused. “Well being” seems like a respectful term, and there could be many others.
middle class. We hear and read these words constantly, it seems. In North America here where hundreds of years ago Europeans began coming partly to escape class societies, in this age does “middle class” have any real meaning? And why don’t we hear much about the “lower” class or classes? Maybe because they are so low they have been altogether forgotten? According to inequality.org the richest 1% in the world own 44% of global wealth. These own $1,000,000 and over. The top 10% wealthiest people together own more than each country in a group of ten countries. Those owning less than $10,000 make up 56% of global population, and hold less than 2% of global wealth. Maybe the term “middle class” is used to ignore all this.
normal, new normal. Yowie! Before Covid 19 for many years I had not seen what I might call normal. Now the pandemic holds sway and it is called the new normal–physical distancing, wearing masks, not having social or other gatherings, being unemployed, not affording housing, food, medical needs, not being able to hug. Normal appears to be not normal; new normal the same. We are grasping for normal which, if it ever existed, probably won’t again. Let’s write a song about a classless society, OK?
nuclear war. Something that has never happened, and if it did, would last maybe a couple hours or part of a day, and then nothing much would exist at all. It is no doubt the most expensive thing on which some countries have spent Billions, that has proven the greatest waste and poverty-creator of our time. Using the words “nuclear war” as if it would be something we could envision or survive is an insult to humanity.
organic food. To me this term is superfluous, as food fit for humans can be only “organic,” otherwise it is not “food” in the pure sense, but something that holds potential harm to our systems. I want to see only organic foods sold, grown, consumed; instead of stores filled mostly with items that are GMO’s, full of additives, artificial color, sugar, salt, grown with pesticides, and on and on. All humans DESERVE wholesome safe food–so it needs to be available and affordable to all, not just the wealthy.
pandemic. This is a word used so often in this time of Covid 19, yet I want to mention what is not said here. For many decades countries have identified that readiness for pandemics in this time of global trade and travel is of utmost importance; yet how prepared were nations for this pandemic? Such pandemics, as was this one, are often caused by the combination of over-population, human take-over of or proximity to animal habitats–resulting in animal-to-human spread of infections. This threat to forest and animal habitat is just part of the huge destruction of Earth’s bioregions, climate patterns, of animal and plant and sea life. The present situation is one in which another pandemic or two could spring forth as we are in the middle of this one. Some call the challenge to deal with the largely human-result that is Covid 19 a “war;” is that not like the sheep having a war on wool, except wool is not a threat? The focus now is so concentrated upon the losses and challenges of the pandemic itself that it seems little attention is paid in the media to the underlying issues.
peace. Something which gets mentioned a lot, yet never occurs in our world situation. Peace implies that we know how to manifest and maintain peace. To create peace we not only have to put aside weapons, we also must do the work of opening our hearts to others. Until we actually know ourselves as peoples, as equals, as essentially the same and deserving peace; and until we see our kind as part of the family of living Gaia, we shall not know world peace. Perhaps as nations today are forced to respond to global crises they will come to dedicate their energies to unite for the common well-being of the planet and discard war machinery in favor of global efforts to work together to face the huge challenges facing us all.
planets. The outer bodies of our solar system have for many years been considered planets. Now Pluto has lost that title. Yet catastrophe theories leave room for Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and maybe Neptune as being actual “dead” stars. These theories also allow that early in the forming of our solar system there may have been two or more “suns,” even during the times of our ancestors.
post traumatic stress disorder. As someone trained as a clinical counselor I take offense at this expression and at its being used as a disorder diagnosis. Most humans and many animals also, experience great stress after living through significant trauma. This is not abnormal nor is it a “disorder,” but a natural response to things from which one needs to heal in order to gain back previous patterns of functioning. It would be, would it not, a rather weird circumstance if a soldier who had lost a best friend in combat and seen small children murdered in the street, did not suffer terribly from those experiences? Or if a woman had been nearly strangled to death by a violent ex-partner and just went on, ho-hum, with her life without suffering stresses from that. To label normal human responses to terrible happenings as a mental illness or something not normal, I would say IS neither “normal,” nor fair.
primitive. Often people who lived many many ages ago are termed primitive, as well as some indigenous peoples in different parts of the world whose ways some may label primitive. Humans many ages ago were pretty much as we are now, with the same intelligence, feelings, creativity, ability to meet their needs and contribute to their communities. In the dictionary one definition of primitive is “…at an early stage of civilization.” Then a definition for civilization is “an advanced stage or system of social development.” We cannot go further and look up a definition for “social development,” as it is two words. Same for “advanced stage.” Alas, perhaps the idea of primitive peoples is a useless, meaningless one. Let’s assume we know nothing here.
progress. This term is often used to imply that furthering exploitation of the Earth (and its people), producing more gadgets we can purchase, sending rockets into space, higher figures on the stock market, and inflation–are what constitute progress. Perhaps progress for many, would mean the peoples of the world working together in cooperation to do all we can to turn things around so maybe Life on this planet may have a hope of continuing.
protesters. Ah, one of my favorite terms about which to gripe. When in the media we hear “protesters” we often do not hear much about that which is protested: sometimes a little. The word is often used along with words for others who may have been near the protesters, such as “looters, rioters,” or people using forms of violence. Why do we not hear, instead of “protesters,” the things for which these people are demonstrating–the justice, the safety, the equal rights? The things they are protesting have been around for some time, and what is important is what they are working toward. Why not “activists for the cause of….?”
race, racism. (see my blog post There is One Human Race: Only One). To me the use of the word “race” implies that one has an idea that our species consists of different “races.” But it does not…so would we not benefit by using other terms that actually might have adequate meaning when we mean e.g., ethnicity, religion, skin color, indigenous, cultural tradition, or area in which people live? I cringe a little every time I see or hear these words in the media.
radical. I love this one, as I identify as a radical on many fronts. It means to be rooted–dedicated to one’s principles, centered in one’s work toward what one envisions. Radiant radicals! Does a “rad-ish” become unrooted and dance around the garden aimlessly? Don’t think so.
religious symbols, dress. In Quebec people who work in government-funded jobs are prohibited from wearing what is termed “religious symbols.” Although this would be interpreted by most Canadians as un-Constitutional, so far the law stands. This has caused some to give up a chance to work in their chosen fields. An example is a Muslim woman who chooses to wear a head covering and who wants to teach at a public school. Another would be a man who is a Sikh and who wears a turban at a government job. Besides this being flagrant discrimination and in violation of people’s freedom, I consider it too murky an issue. Some such adornments are not actually “religious” symbols, but cultural; there are also people who wear things that would fall into the category of “spiritual” symbols but not being tied to a particular religion. Freedom of expression means any spiritual or religious symbol anyone wears is fine, so long as it does not aim hatred or violence toward anyone or group. I wonder how long this law will stand.
riot. The dictionary for the first definition of this word gives “an especially violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd.” So why sometimes do we hear a public demonstration or a non-violent protest of human rights violations termed “riots?”
sick children. In Canada there are actually hospitals for children with the words “sick children” in the official name! I could hardly believe this when I first moved here. How about “children’s hospital,” isn’t that descriptive enough? Do adults who may need a hospital now and then want to be called “sick adults?”
socialism. In the US and some other countries this word can carry an unpleasant odor with it. How this came about is a complex story; how it maintains itself is through the tight grip of rampant capitalism and “individualism.” When owners of monied organizations try to tie fear to a word they have a reason–greed. Of course socialism can make possible the way to greater equality, health, opportunity, education and other benefits to all members of society. Any bad smell to that?
sorry. 1). Often in the media when someone is being interviewed about a disturbing experience they will say “sorry” if they break up in tears, as if this could be uncomfortable for the interviewer or audience. If we are in touch with our emotions of course it is only natural to choke up and get tearful, or even sob over something which may have involved terror, the loss of a loved one or extreme injury or loss to someone. Perhaps someday the interviewee in these cases will not feel a need to apologize for expressing deeply felt emotions; perhaps it can help them and those listening (or watching) to allow the full impact of experience even in the media. 2). In Canada and I suppose in other places too, a common situation is that of someone giving a quick “sorry!” when someone else was really the one in the position to give an apology. An example is that of person A, just having started to sip a hot drink, is bumped into to by person B–and maybe the hot drink is spilled on A’s clothing. Yet it is A who apologizes profusely to B. Happens all the time.
space, outer space. (see also “mars”). Huge national budgets have been spent and are being spent to research space, to send costly spacecraft and even humans out to the heavens. Though one can understand the marvels and wonder that call us to these vast unknown regions, it would seem that we have such a teensy understanding of ourselves, our own planet full of miraculous systems known and unknown, that it would be even more beneficial to focus on these. I would venture to say we are missing very valuable secrets here that can help us be healthy, that can restore lost ecosystems, food production, and build sustainable energy projects. As millions go hungry and become refugees, as millions die and suffer from a pandemic and from poverty and oppression, where do we want to invest monies; where to discover; where do we want to make a difference? BESIDES–we already ARE astronauts getting a free ride not only yearly around our sun, but also circling with our solar system and moving with the galaxy! Everyday we are in a new spot in the universe, no ticket necessary, no polluting fuel, no learning how to get by with zero gravity and spaceship food and drink!
terrorism. Now this is a term that has been used to further misunderstanding and create the idea of the “enemy.” For one, the term is never really defined when used; two–to me the greatest terror that can be demonstrated is that by a country which maintains a nuclear arsenal. The small nations which in response then create nuclear arms do it out of fear they need to protect themselves. Interesting, eh, to think that a greater supply of such weapons in our world could make us safer? Anyway, without even considering the end of the world scenario these weapons would/could get us into, why would anyone see any use in them, when an “enemy” potentially could cause huge damages to a country merely by hacking into its control system for electricity, transportation, dam management, government processes, etc.? This would be vastly less expensive…vastly.
traditional medicine. I get irked when I hear this term used to mean the patriarchal medicine of the last century plus, as this is not “traditional” medicine but a more modern development. So why cannot we call it what it is? Some call it “western medicine,” yet is it (see “western” below)? To me traditional medicine includes many streams of ancient healing–some going back thousands of years, and many passed down by women. Women were often the doctors, and more and more in our time are recognized as healers. Women very often were the ones who helped with childbirth and pregnancy, the ones who knew the herbs to gather for healthy food and for medicines. They were healers for the infants, toddlers and the elderly. It is my thought that Nature has provided us with all the medicines we might need for any health need, be it of our bodies, minds, or emotions. We have no idea how many remedies we may have lost forever due to deforestation and actions that pollute earth, water and air. This seems a huge tragedy to me.
west, western. Now here is a puzzling one. When the Vikings came to North America they went west. When boats sailed from China to Central America they went east. When we speak of Europe we say “western,” and when we speak of Asia we say “eastern.” Some use the term “western” for North America (I assume) because they think of the last five hundred years in this part of the world as dominated by what were originally European cultures. So, I invite us to abandon this use of the word and see us as between east and west, and able to identify as something entirely new and open-ended–all the way from the Arctic to the southern tip of Chile and Argentina. If our concept of North America/Central America is actually Turtle Island, the important thing is that this has nothing to do with Europe or Amerigo Vespucci. We can internalize our own deeper relation to where we live–to what holds us.
work. Concepts about work and the “work ethic” tend to make my throat gag. So many times I have heard it said that in the democracy where all have equal opportunity (and where is that, may I ask!?) anyone can rise up from poverty by working hard, working their way “up.”. This is an insulting statement and besides, can ruin a person’s life. One’s chances of being wealthy are very great if one is born into wealth, and those born into poverty very often stay there. So there is a false idea about “opportunity” and about the state of one’s society, among many, and this can really help things keep going as they have gone.
And to end with some words from Molly Ivins–from a piece in The Progressive, July, 1993, with Molly composing a Shakespearean version of Texan speech (making fun of someone running at the time in the Texas senate race).
“For example, ‘How the cow ate the cabbage’ becomes ‘Mark how yon horn-crown’d, three-stomach’d beast doth feast upon the furled green that hath for so long stunketh up the castle keep.'”