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Home / Articles / Columnists / Life 101 /  SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY
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Tuesday, September 4,2012

SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY

By Cary Bayer  
We really need to evolve a culture in America in which people say what they mean and mean what they say. In an age of political doublespeak that we’re living in, an age that’s filled with intentionally ambiguous or confusing talk, one sometimes feels much like Pontius Pilate, wanting to ask simply, “What is Truth?” Who knows anymore?

 

President George W. Bush called himself a “compassionate Conservative,” but a lot of folks on both sides of the aisle never quite saw the compassion that his campaign commercials boasted of. The writer and critic H.L. Mencken said that a demagogue is “one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” Dresden James recognized this truth, as well, when he said, “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”

 

George Orwell, whose 1949 novel 1984 gave us the term doublethink which, in a few years, morphed into doublespeak, wrote that “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Former conservative cable TV leader Glenn Beck apparently saw no cognitive dissonance in comparing his Far Right message on the anniversary of The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leftist “I Have a Dream” speech at the very same Washington Monument where the Civil Rights Nobel Prize-winner for Peace lifted the minds of hundreds of thousands of followers. Beck’s millions of rabid followers see no contradiction in the message of their hero from that of King, who lost his life freeing African Americans from much of the Conservative values that Beck would, decades later, espouse.

With the rhetoric of TV commercials, lawyers’ speeches, and politicians that are full of such hot air, it’s amazing we don’t all just swelter in their presence. Ask any liberal TV viewer, and he’ll tell you, quite passionately, that dou blespeak is rampant on Fox News. On the other hand, in the minds of Fox’s fanatic faithful, MSNBC is rife with the doublespeak of the left. Doublespeak, like much of everything else, is in the eye of the beholder.

This being said, it’s refreshing to be perfectly clear in your communications. At a time when so much bluster and blather clog the airwaves, you can be a breath of proverbial fresh air by speaking the truth plainly and simply.

As the Western Hemisphere’s greatest genius, Leonardo da Vinci, put it, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

 

So how does one speak plainly and simply? The question seems rather comical in a way, because speaking plainly and simply comes to anyone rather… well, simply. It takes great effort to speak with obfuscation. It takes planning to clothe one’s message. Some people think, incorrectly, that the more complicated their speech, the smarter they seem. The reverse is true. As Lao Tzu wrote in his classic Tao Te Ching:

“Be sparing of speech, and things will come right of themselves.”

 

President Abraham Lincoln was so sparing, her needed only 246 words in his unforgettable Gettysburg Address. Thomas Jefferson required only 1,337 words to sever colonial ties with England in the Declaration of Independence. The original U.S. Constitution, which laid out the foundation for governing our nascent country and establish the great freedoms of our democratic experiment, was less than 4,500 words. Yet, when Congress aimed to reform health care in 2009, it needed some 184, 672 words. Something is rotten in the state of our communication.

To restore health to the way we speak, we need to just simply say what we mean, and mean what we say.

LIFE 101

by Cary Bayer

Cary Bayer is a Life Coach and the founder of Higher Self Healing Meditation. He conducts private practices and teaches meditation classes by the ocean in south Florida (954-788-3380) and in the mountains in Woodstock, New York (845-679-5526). You can find him at www.carybayer.com and reach him at successaerobics@ aol.com

 

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