Abstractions Diminish Peace & Understanding

I deplore abstractions. Everywhere I go I hear people talk in the most absurd ways. For instance, I hear people talk about how China is concerned about Taiwan making phone calls. They talk about how Germany is taking over the EU, or how Russia is meddling in the free elections of western democracies. They talk about Mexico paying for a wall to keep workers from crossing the border; how Iraq hates Iran, and how much Palestinians hate Jews. None of this makes any sense.


It is silly to talk as if ideas like nationhood stand for an actual being with a personality. It is silly to talk as if China stands for anything at all. It is only a word. It will never be anything more than a word. No matter how many times we say it, and no matter how loud it comes out of our mouth, it is still just a word. As such, it can be interpreted in 7 billion ways. To say that China does this and China does that, is not to talk sensibly about a being that makes conscious decisions. It is to merely verbalize a socially constructed mental abstraction and implicitly demand that people accept it as a real thing with thoughts, emotions and goals.

The same goes for the word ‘America.’ It can not attend conferences and meetings. America can not wage and fight wars. America is not something that breaths, eats, sleeps, and desires. America, as an abstraction, doesn’t do anything at all. It is merely a concept that is treated as a real entity.

I think it is best to ask what the people of these countries want. What do the people in Moscow want? Forget Russia. What does the person on the street in Kiev desire from their government? Forget France. What do the French citizens in Lyon and Nice want? What does the average Scotsman  demand from their leaders? Forget North Korea. What do the Korean people long for? In the their heart of hearts, what do the Yemeni people hope to achieve with their precious lives? What do the people in Flint deserve?

These are the questions that must be asked. They are the only words that matter.


Photo by George Cassidy Payne

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