I’m keeping it short this year and, thanks to my oldest son, sweet.
Sometimes, maybe we just need to see things through the eyes of a 7-year-old.
In this case, a 7-year-old who was standing in the toy aisle with his hard-earned allowance, contemplating how much he had to spend.
He had already noted that the trademarked Legos cost more than the ‘regular’ sets because, as he pointed out, “they have to split the profits three ways: George Lucas, Lego, and Target.”
Yes, son. You’re right.
Now, he was adding up the prices on the smaller sets he had selected. The total came to about $16, and he had $20 to spend.
His younger brother tried to add a Lego minifigure ($2.99) to the pile, but Sam stopped him.
“Ben,” he said, “We have to leave enough to pay taxes.”
When a 5-year-old’s protest started, Sam responded, “Who do you think pays for the sidewalk you ride your scooter down? Or the library where you check out those Captain Underpants books? We all do.”
True that, second-grade wisdom.
Maybe I should have been a linguist.
Because I find that I’m a little bit obsessed with language.
Specifically, the language that we use to talk about the issues that matter, and how what we say shapes what we see.
Two thoughts leaped out at me from Generation Roe, related to language:
First, how the frame of ‘pro-choice’ evokes a certain perception of how women come to abortion, and, conversely, how being, then, framed as on the other side of ‘pro-life’ triggers undesirable conflicts, too. Because it’s a very different equation, to pit ‘life’ against a ‘choice’. When the lines are drawn that way, where we end up feels different.
And, second, how we define ‘access’–to any service–is very important for marking the parameters of equity and justice and, truly, meaningful access. Because is it really ‘access’ if people are too poor to get to the service? If it’s not offered in their native language? If they don’t feel comfortable in the neighborhood where we’re located?
For me, the first of these language concerns relates to how we let others define us, and how we need to be intentional about how we describe where we stand, on a given issue. And the second is about intellectual honesty and ethically representing the limits of our own efforts, rather than using language to console ourselves unjustifiably.
One is about not allowing ourselves to be boxed in unnecessarily and inappropriately.
The other is about not giving ourselves more wiggle room than is warranted.