A few reflections from Kay on a MWM conversation at Blacks Club on 13th March 2017

The language of war has been (mis-)appropriated by the corporate and political world.In the real field of battle, language is used with precision and clarity. What if we keep the language of war, but examine what’s good about it and use it more precisely?

So many kids’ games are battle and war games. Our use of conflict language begins early.

Do we find comfort in the language of battle? Perhaps it allows us to assign simple roles; an enemy, a hero, a victim, and then to blame someone else. Do we use this language because we want to be the hero? Because we feel like the victim? Because we don’t want to be the villain?

Do we use simple language to allow us to avoid the complexity of our problems? Is the language of conflict preventing us from seeking more imaginative, alternative solutions? Is it inhibiting our progress?

Kintsugi (the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery). What if we were to strive not to repair our lives and existence to some imagined memory of perfection (“the good old days” “Make America great”), or to restore some fictional, idealised status quo, but to create something different from and even more beautiful than the thing that we have broken?

Solutions are created from 2 or more elements “agreeing” to form something new.  What if we stop being concerned with winning against an enemy? If we keep using the same language, will it prevent us from finding new answers and new ways?

Generate content not conflict. How can we use language to open us to the question, “what comes next?” and leave our mind open to possibility?

Strategy is nothing without tactics. We use glib expressions, we skate over the surface. How can we use language to get more granular and precise?  What tactics will emerge from the strategy we describe with our language?

A battle that never ends is exhausting. In war, battles end with a victor and a vanquished. How do we define a successful end state if it is not the defeat or destruction of the other?

Where in the chain of command are you? The language of war not only pushes us to find an enemy, but also creates hierarchy. It is disempowering unless you are at the top. You are waiting for “them” to tell you what to do.

Conflict words make closed sounds. Fight. Battle. Conflict. Win. War. Beat. Stop. They are the verbal equivalent of running into a wall or looking at the end of my nose. It’s hard to flow when I’m trapped inside this word box. What if we use language that lifts our gaze beyond fighting the thing or person that is “wrong”, and encourages us look out to a horizon where things are not defined as right or wrong, as good or bad, but as different, beautiful, interesting

Other languages.How does the language of conflict show up in other languages? In particular, what happens in the languages of cultures without a colonial past?

“Battling disease” and “being in opposition” When we use this language, we have named an adversary rather than sought a solution. In doing this, have we, on some level, accepted that we are under attack/endangered/weaker, and the other is more powerful? Have we have given the power to the other?

Wittgenstein “(Understanding) is a matter of supplying illuminating descriptions, not penetrating explanations”