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I’ve made my New Year’s Resolution. I hereby resolve that I will not participate in arguments based upon definitions.
A definition, by definition, defines. More precisely, it de-fines. Note the prefix. If you look up “de-” in a dictionary, you’ll find it means to remove, reduce, lower… In other words, definitions narrow any discussion. They shift the focus from lived experience to someone else’s wisdom, frozen into print.
Once, in an early essay, I used the phrase “by definition.” My instructor scribbled, “Whose definition?”
Because definitions change.
Many people, I suspect, don’t realize the un-examined definitions they’re working with.
A friend yearns for mystical experiences. It won’t happen. Because, under pressure, he admits that an encounter with God requires getting knocked senseless, blinded -- or at least blind-sided -- and ordered by a disembodied voice like Paul Robeson’s to change his life.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Liberal, Definitions, Haidt, conservative
When I was young, we sometimes went to the Saturday movies. In those days, the theatre didn’t consider the main feature sufficient to attract an audience, so they ran a weekly serial as well. The serial always ended with what we called a “cliffhanger.” The hero – or the unfortunate heroine waiting to be rescued – faced almost certain death. The train thundered towards the victim. The snake prepared to strike. The bad guy got his gun out first.
Of course, we had to come back, next Saturday, we just had to, to see how this crisis resolved itself.
The makers of those old flicks never built a cliffhanger around a democratic election. But that’s what we have, currently, in B.C.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: B.C. election, cliffhanger, Green Party, Liberal, NDP