Skip to main content

Liberal language guy George Lakoff has an insightful column in The Washington Post this weekend that is recommended reading to those who want to get the word out and have it understood.

Words not only have meaning, they are political action themselves, Mr. Lakoff said. The terms we use can get people thinking and prompt action. As he said:

The more we repeat the language of equality, freedom and social responsibility, the more those ideas come to dominate the public conversation. In turn, the character of public discourse determines what the news media promote and criticize, and what the candidates for public office must pay attention to. In this way, speech is political action.

What are some other deep truths we can promote through words? That individual initiative is possible only with the infrastructure and human capital the American public has provided for all of us. That health care is inseparable from life. That education is far more than taking tests or competing in the global economy; it is what makes us free and equal. That the environment is not just outside; it is inside us, with polluted air and water and pesticides destroying our health, now and tomorrow. That women’s rights are human rights. That great disparities in wealth destroy opportunity.

The part that stuck out to me was the line that education "is what makes us free and equal." What a great way of putting it in these times where we're told that teachers are worthless moochers, private schools are better and home schooling is best, particularly if it includes intelligent design for its science curriculum.

While I was thinking of all the ways education makes us free, I was reminded of a time I was in the Parker's grocery to pick up dinner ingredients. The store was the closest supermarket to the downtown area of my city, but still quite a hike or bus ride for most who lived there.

I was in the frozen foods section, reaching for some vegetables, when I was approached by an older black man who was leaning on a cane wearing an overcoat and a well-used fedora. He stopped several feet away and took off the hat. "Excuse me, ma'am. Could you help me? I just can't find this kind of ice cream I'm supposed to get."

I deposited the veggies into my cart and followed him to the ice cream section. In a moment, I reached in and pulled out his selection and handed it to him. He bowed slightly and put his hat back on.

"I'm beholden to ya, ma'am. Thank ya." And he wandered off.

I went back to my cart and pushed it past the ice cream section. I glanced at it and wondered what was so hard about finding chocolate fudge brownie? Then I realized he mustn't be able to read and the pictures on the packages wouldn't guarantee he got the right kind.

He'd had to embarrass himself in front of a stranger to ask for help. He was beholden to me.

Education makes us free and equal, even in Parker's grocery.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site