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The importance of word choice

SandraGandarez's picture

In the Ecology of Wisdom we discussed some major issues with the wording and its connotation it has and the thoughts that are evoked based on that connotation. A good example of this is portrayed throughout the book in “deep” and “shallow” ecology. Those terms give a hierarchy to the terms and to the people who practice it. No one wants to practice shallow ecology because it seems to be superficial and self serving rather than a direct attempt to help the environment. It evokes the feeling that you only want to help the environment because you want to make life better for yourself and increase your quality of life, rather than doing it because it is right or better for the trees, plants, etc. While deep ecology means you want to do it and better everything even if it doesn't “help” your quality of life. This makes me feel that deep ecologists are more like martyrs and that shallow ecologists are just that, shallow. Maybe his point would have gotten across better if those evocative terms weren't used, or at least interested a wider range of people who want to help, but don't want to do jumping jacks to warm up and who enjoy the comforts of life. The Ghandian principles are another aspect of this where we do not want to alienate a person and stop a conversation. “Avoid tendentious firsthand reports” is a good way of saying don't make yourself an expert just because you have lived that life because who is going to want to contribute if you portray yourself that way. We discussed the example of “As a woman I know this” or “As a poor Southern white I know this”. If you “know” this then what can the other individual possibly contribute to the conversation? I guess these discussions just made me a bit more aware of my wording when addressing issues and any assumptions I make about life based on my personal experiences. I don't KNOW anything about what other people who may be in the same situation so I shouldn't generalize based on my experiences.



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