Time for a pop quiz!
1.Define the following words without looking them up.
2. Which American political party stands for freedom ?
Don’t feel bad if you have a little trouble. Most people will.
“What do you mean by that word?”
We use words to communicate ideas. Whether communicating in a face to face conversation, reading words in a book, or listening to a news program, if you don’t know the intended meaning of a word, you can misunderstand the message. Children and non-native speakers often get words mixed up and we think it’s funny and we gently correct them.
Besides simply not knowing the meaning, sometimes word meanings often evolve somewhat naturally over time. But they can also be changed as part of an agenda to keep people confused or create misinformation.
But is it really possible to have legitimate conversations about anything if we are not using the same meanings for words?
For example, let’s examine the meanings of some words.
First, read the defintion of the word health.
health 1. The general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor: “She would go through various phases of good health and poor health.”https://wordinfo.info/searches/results/health
2. Soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment: to have one’s health; to lose one’s health.
3. The condition of an organism with respect to the performance of its vital functions especially as evaluated subjectively or nonprofessionally: “How is your health these days?”
4. To have vigor and vitality; such as, economic health or even physical health.
And here is a basic definition of the word healthcare.
Essential Meaning of health care: the prevention or treatment of illness by doctors, dentists, psychologists, etc.
: efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being especially by trained and licensed professionals —usually hyphenated when used attributivelyhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/health%20care
This is what the CDC says about reproductive health.
Women’s Reproductive Health:
Improve women’s health from menarche through menopause.
1.Increase the percentage of pregnancies that are intended.https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/drh/about-us/DRH-strategic-plan.htm
2.Increase the proportion of women who practice key preventive health behaviors.
3.Integrate selected reproductive and non-reproductive health services.
And now, let’s see how the words “reproductive health” are used in these articles.
https://www.unfpa.org/press/unfpa-reaffirms-advantages-investing-reproductive-health UNITED NATIONS, New York— If modern contraceptive services were available to all 201 million women with unmet need in the developing world, 1.5 million women and children would be saved each year, and the number of unplanned births would be reduced by 72 per cent, according to a new publication by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund.
Women in Texas will take back control of their reproductive healthcare by leaving the state or going to Mexico to have abortions, say rights advocates “immigrants to Texas are considering returning to their home country to terminate their pregnancies to avoid the new Texas abortion laws, say reports.“
Salesforce will help employees concerned about access to reproductive healthcare to exit Texas.
DOJ pledges support for reproductive health care after Texas abortion ban
Those are just a few of countless news stories intended for public consumption where the words ‘reproductive healthcare’ are used to specifically indicate access to abortion or contraception, not maternal or infant care as described on the CDC website.
We can see that the intention is to create an impression in the mind of the public that abortion is somehow healthy for the mother and make them forget that abortion is deadly for the developing baby.
Why would they call abortion ‘reproductive healthcare’ ? Because the word “abortion” has a negative connotation to most people, while “reproductive healthcare” sounds positive and is more likely to engender public support for funding and legislation. It is pure manipulation.
How about a few more examples?
Let’s go back to ‘healthcare’. Here is the Wikipedia definition again: Health care (also health-care or healthcare) is the maintenance or improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, recovery, or cure of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in people.
The word healthcare has replaced the word health INSURANCE in the public messaging, even though they are obviously not equal things. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, many people now have health insurance, but still cannot get proper healthcare. The website for Obamacare is called ‘healthcare.gov’, not healthinsurance.gov.
Not only is the cost of health insurance and actual healthcare still too high for many people, the quality of healthcare is very inconsistent. Finding a doctor that you like, trust, and can afford is not always easy, especially with limited networks on the cheaper insurance plans. So we see that health insurance does not always lead to healthcare, and yet the terms are used interchangeably in news articles.
Why would they call HEALTH INSURANCE , HEALTHCARE? Because not many people like paying for health insurance! But most people want health care. It’s manipulative marketing.
Lastly, let’s examine some interesting political terms and see how they have evolved over time.
You’ve probably heard the popular terms liberal and conservative and have chosen a team.
Today the term liberal is often understood as the group that wants more social programs and special protections for minority groups of all kinds. Conservatives are often thought to be anti-welfare and pro-business and also pro-American . Both groups want justice and equal rights for all, but have differing ideas of what that looks like and how to achieve it.
Unfortunately due to miscommunication, many liberals think conservatives are aspiring fascists and many conservatives think liberals are aspiring communists. Those are two more words that most people don’t actually understand.
But did you know that in the past, both liberals and conservatives agreed with the idea that government should be limited and somewhat distrusted? Here are two definitions from Encyclopedia Britannica.
Liberalism, political doctrine that takes protecting and enhancing the freedom of the individual to be the central problem of politics. Liberals typically believe that government is necessary to protect individuals from being harmed by others, but they also recognize that government itself can pose a threat to liberty.
Conservatism, political doctrine that emphasizes the value of traditional institutions and practices. Government’s responsibility is to be the servant, not the master, of existing ways of life, and politicians must therefore resist the temptation to transform society and politics.
What? Liberals want individual freedom? Isn’t that what conservatives want? I thought liberals were all about collectivism? And conservatives want everyone to conform to their rules? I thought conservatives wanted personal freedom and responsibility? I’m so confused!
Obviously these words are being used differently nowadays.
What has definitely changed in the present world is that there is no longer an option for small government, it’s already a huge monster and it keeps growing. So now we are mostly arguing about what role the government should play in keeping the economy going and how much power the government should have over individual behavior.
While both groups want freedom, it’s clear that we have different definitions for the word freedom.
Some writers would have you believe that only elites want the type of freedom that today’s political conservatives want, but this is not true. Economic freedom is the only true freedom. (not including freedom in Christ) .All other types of freedom are secondary. Those who do not believe in freedom will divide people by keeping them confused and uniformed about who is actually holding them back.
And now there’s another word to keep us guessing what people mean, neoliberalism. “Only American right-wingers appear to use the term [liberal] as a pejorative to sling at the anti-capitalist left. Even in America, though, with the left having eschewed the term for the more trendy “progressive,” the use of “liberalism” in political invective appears to be fading.”
Neoliberalism, or neo-liberalism, is a term used to describe the 20th-century resurgence of 19th-century ideas associated with free-marketcapitalism.:7 A significant factor in the rise of conservative and libertarian organizations, political parties, and think tanks, and predominately advocated by them, it is generally associated with policies of economic liberalization, including privatization, deregulation, globalization, free trade, austerity and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society; however, the defining features of neoliberalism in both thought and practice have been the subject of substantial scholarly debate. The term has multiple, competing definitions, and a pejorative valence. In policymaking, neoliberalism often refers to what was part of a paradigm shift that followed the failure of the Keynesian consensus in economics to address the stagflation of the 1970s.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
If you didn’t bother to read all that, it says that neoliberalism is simply free market capitalism. The term is often used negatively by those who want much more government control over the economy.
Conservatism, like neoliberalism, is also fond of free markets and capitalism, unless you’re actually a globalist in disguise. Oh wait, globalist is another word that keeps changing teams!
The real issue is that words are being used to keep us divided! People don’t even know the name of the team they’re on and that is the goal.
Most of us are ON THE SAME TEAM, the one that believes in freedom and wants to be left alone to live our lives without undue taxation and regulation or oppression, but we don’t know that because of identity politics (very interesting article), which is a term that simply means labeling certain groups as in need of more protection and some people as bad to keep us divided.
Unfortunately the majority of reasonable Americans are at risk from the radical minority on both sides of the political spectrum and must stay alert to the manipulative tactics. By questioning the meaning of words and by reading articles, not just headlines, we can be more informed. We must stay aware of the hidden agendas of radical groups and make sure we do not empower or elect their leaders.
I think ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ can agree that dividing America with inflammatory and misleading narratives is not the way to bring more freedom, equality, economic growth and opportunities for all citizens.
One last word for us to consider. Vaccine. Also , fully vaccinated. In the past, we were taught that vaccines produced immunity to various infectious diseases. Now we are being told that the new Covid vaccines prevent serious illness by blocking the protein of the virus, but that we can still be infected and either have no symptoms or have mild symptoms. This is a change in the definition of vaccine.
According to this article, the CDC recently altered it definition of vaccination.
“Before the change, the definition for “vaccination” read, “the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.” Now, the word “immunity” has been switched to “protection.”
The term “vaccine” also got a makeover. The CDC’s definition changed from “a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease” to the current “a preparation that is used to stimulate the body’s immune response against diseases.””
How did you do on the pop quiz? Did you know the answers ?
What do you think ? Are words being used to manipulate the public ?
What words do you want to add to this list ?