The meme depicted above was recently, and oh so generously, shared with me by a friend. The friend, knowing the philosophical nature of my brain functions, figured that it would be right up my alley. In some ways the friend was right, but in others…well, just read on and find out.
If you’ve read some of my blogs, you know I like to take a deep dive into what might even seem like the simplest of things – and this meme afforded me just such an opportunity.
It occurred to me some time back that if more people understood the importance of precision in language, then communication could be improved exponentially. This is just like ensuring that a scene is in focus in your viewfinder before you take a picture--I mean, do you want people to know what the heck it was you took a picture of or not? So, ensuring that a scene is in focus, or that your language is precise, is truly a matter of people understanding what it is that is before them; and I’m sure if we were all honest, then we would say that comprehending reality presents a challenge for some—maybe too many.
As an example of why precise language matters, If I were to say that I saw a cat, you immediately know what I'm talking about. You don't need to know anything about where, when, etc.-- contextual details are not necessary. Granted, you might not know what color the cat was, whether it was wet or dry, or even whether it was dead or alive, but you aren't going to envision a school bus.
Why does this matter? Well, when we define a term, we give it an identity. The importance of that identity is our ability, as well as that of others, to recognize what it is that is being discussed, no matter the context. A good example to illustrate and cement this concept is your ability to recognize your spouse, or anyone else who is close to you, in different environments.
In other words, let’s say that someone said they saw someone who is close to you at the store the other day. To understand who they are talking about, you don’t need to know the name of the store, what the person was wearing, what time of day it was, or anything of the sort. Being given the identity of the person is all that you need, because their identity means something.
To expound upon this concept a bit, if I were to say that I saw a wealthy person, I'm sure certain ideas that represent wealth immediately come to mind. In other words, you might imagine the wealthy person driving a nice car, wearing nice clothes, or living in a mansion, and you might affix certain details to those visions, but whether those details are accurate doesn’t take away from your understanding of what is being said to you.
What does this have to do with the meme?
When we take a term and we start to change the definition, not only are we diluting the meaning of the term, but we are also misidentifying the problem. Something that I have come to understand very well: the efficacy of any solution directly correlates with how well a problem is understood. That might seem obvious and reasonable enough, but what follows is a fun story to really cement that point.
A couple of years back, I had an exchange with one of my best friends from high school. Our discussion revolved around this very concept and my friend attempted to tell me that the efficacy of a solution is actually subjective, and not objective, which is essentially another way to describe my position on the matter. To illustrate his point, he gave me a hypothetical of a leaky roof and said that whether someone placed a tarp over the roof or a bucket under the leak was irrelevant, because both solved the problem. I promptly pointed out that he was actually talking about two different problems and that the bucket would only solve the problem of the floor getting wet—the roof would still leak. We both got a good laugh out of that one.
As this applies to wealth, we can lie to ourselves and say that, actually, wealth is the objective--but it's not, we know that it's not, and it never will be. Why? Because the problem(s) we have do not allow for wealth to be a solution.
The real problems are a lack of…
Here’s the bottom line: true wealth can literally do nothing about a lack of any of those ideas. It can’t buy you more time. If you are oppressed, it can’t free you—otherwise, how is it that you became oppressed as a wealthy person in the first place? If you are out of options, you can’t just go pick more up from the store. Lastly, if you are in bad health, you can’t stroke a check and have your health restored.
We most certainly have a problem in this country, and around the world, but it isn't a lack of wealth. It also isn't a lack of time, freedom, options, or health. The problem is that the perspectives that govern our thought processes do not allow us to appreciate or maximize that which we do have. Further, we are not changing our regimented mindsets, when we should, so that we can get out of our own way.