"One Head," in Defense of Clarity in Communication
Like any good family, we taught my brother the names for the parts of his body by pointing and repeating. Like any good two year old, he had his own ideas about some of them.

(Pointing) "This is your forehead.


"Yes, This is your forehead."

(Agitated, he'd hit himself on the forehead) "No! Not four heads. One head!"
Children live in such a concrete, literal world, which is often amusing to adults. We live in a world of abstraction in which language is used not to communicate, but to obscure meaning. Political speech and news media broadcast their ideas through stringing together phrases, euphemisms and slogans with intentional vagueness. The purpose is not to communicate, but to appear to present information while veiling its meaning.

We read statements like this, quoted in the Seattle Times blog,
This is classic — that Gingrich's solution to Bush's failed leadership is a different "marketing strategy" shows the true extent to which Republicans cannot be trusted to win the war on terror. Democrats believe we need a "tough and smart" strategy that makes 2006 a year of transition in Iraq and aggressively takes the fight to the terrorists, while Gingrich and Bush seek to elect a new crop of loyal rubberstamps — McGavick, Reichert, and Roulstone included — to blindly support and extend their monopoly on their "tough and dumb" conduct of the war in Iraq and the larger battle against global terrorism.
And we nod our heads. Rarely do we demand clarity or question the actual meaning of such a conundrum. We don't notice that Kelly Steele has offfered nothing but a string of slogans and worn out phrases. He has not offered one argument against Gingrich's assertion that we are in World War III or his call for plain speech about the ramifications of the conflict we are in. Arguments exist on both sides of the fence, but we rarely hear them spelled out in plain English.

I think it would do our language and culture some good to reiterate the obivous.
No! Not four heads. One head.
This semester, we will be adding Communication to our repertoire of Principle Approach subjects. As I draw up my plans and determine the focus of our studies, I will share here some of what I have discovered. So far, I have some good information on the foundations and purposes of communication, the cultural and political consequences of our trend toward ambiguity, some good quotes from Muggeridge and Orwell and perhaps an entry on word choice for Writer's Workshop.

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