Post 9 of the series “What It Means to Be Organic” exploring Organic Community by Joseph Myers. The first post is here.
The eighth organizational tool that can be used mechanically or organically is LANGUAGE. How we understand and use language is important because it shapes the way we behave and believe. How? Words are metaphors. If someone says the word tree, the word itself is not what is being communicated. What is being communicated is the idea of a tree. And although our complete ideas of a tree when we hear the word may be in many ways different than another person’s, they are similar enough that we know what each other means by the word tree.
Language is living in the sense that it is constantly evolving. As language evolves, the ideas set forth by words change. For example, “bad” used to just mean something undesirable. Now it can mean “really good.” Not only that, but the way we form words around other words in sentences shapes the ideas we’re communicating.
Mechanical Order is Noun-Centric
In mechanical order, nouns are the central part of speech. As English-speaking people, we live in a noun-centric culture. In any sentence, the noun is the most important word or idea. The rest of the sentence supports the noun. Nouns are great, except when dealing with matters containing life. When we take ideas that contain elements of life in them and objectify them, it changes our concept of them; and therefore our practice of them. They minimize relational action by reigning in their movement and activity.
How does that affect us? In our culture, if we want something to be important, we must make it a noun. The problem with this is that the relational essence of many words that we noun-ify gets lost in the process. Words like fire, love, and home are better understood as verbs. When we make them nouns, we take the life experience out of them and make them inanimate – without personality, individuality and growth.
Organic Order is Verb-Centric
In organic order, verbs are the central part of speech. In verb-centric cultures, the verb is the main idea of a sentence. Since verbs describe an ongoing process, words with life-essence are better understood this way. Instead of objectifying them, their essence is kept. This influences our ideas of them and influences how we behave.
Life is an ongoing process and everything in the universe is in a constant state of relating. Human beings, for example, become. A snapshot of a person is not who they are. It only captures a moment in time that fails to tell the story.
Whether or not you view community as a noun or a verb will affect your language, your processes, your structures and your outcomes. “Community” as a noun allows you to treat it as an object that you can control. This gives us permission to come up with a way of structuring community that would be the way for everyone. This not only objectifies the group, but makes the individuals pieces to be molded, maneuvered, organized, directed and controlled. People aren’t built to live that way.
In the next post, we'll talk about the ninth organization tool of RESOURCES.
Your turn…What do you think? Anything to add? Questions? Can you think of specific terms that we noun-ify and take the essence out of?
The first post in this series is here. The next post is here.
(Disclaimer: The content of this post is the post author’s perspective on the book selection’s content and not necessarily the opinion of the post author. To purchase the book, use the link below)
Organic Community by Joseph Myers
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