I have been rereading a book about cliches and how we should avoid them. The meeting I had today reminded me about this book – with emphasis on two cliches in particular. Both cliches are misused in everyday conversation.
The first cliche is “Affluent Society”. What would you say if I told you that the original meaning of that is the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots”?
The other cliche I was reminded of was “Critical Mass”. How this one went from its origin in Nuclear Science to being a kind of “catch all” phrase for the bare minimum you can get away with Heaven only knows.
“Critical Mass” actually refers to the absolute minimum of Nuclear material needed to start a chain reaction in a Nuclear Reactor – of course the exact nature of the results of the chain reaction are left unclear. These could be either creation of Nuclear Power or a Chernobyl type event.
Why am I talking about these???
We appear to have totally lost our focus on how we speak about certain groups of people and the challenges they face. What I mean is – we seem to be using all kinds of cliches and jargon without actually doing anything to solve the problems themselves.
Before we start to attempt solving the problems I think we need to go back to calling a spade “A Spade” – as well as concentrating on the real issues with the involvment of the people affected by them.
Maybe then we will be able to congratulate ourselves on having closed the gap between those who Society respects and admires because of their influence and the rest of us.