I suffer from many illusions. I think of the dark waxy substance that coats those little donuts that the they sell in little packs of six at gas stations as “chocolate frosting.” I imagine that when I cross a political boundary, say from Colorado into Utah, that the atmosphere has changed and that I am in a different place. When a carton of eggs says “cage free” I imagine chickens in a meadow rather than a heavily crowded building. When I see “organic” I think “better for you” rather than “more expensive.”
Some illusions do not affect me. I never imagine that when I am buying groceries that I have “saved” money, since I am spending money. When I see Starbucks coffee in a 12 oz bag for $11.99, I know that means $16 per pound. I know that a $15 pair of sneakers is priced at $119.99 because of advertising-created illusions of glamor and athletic prowess. When I pay for two items, I know that one of them was not “free.” I know that a “D” or “R” next to a politician’s name is also an advertising-created illusion of difference.
But I ran across one this morning that shocked me. This one has affected me my whole life. I grew up staying each night in a small building with other family members, eating and reading, watching TV and sleeping. Later, like most baby boomers, I got married and had children and we all stayed in a bigger building with more than one bathroom and color TV’s instead of black and white. Now that the kids are grown and gone I am staying in building with more rooms and bathrooms and TV’s than I need.
I always thought of these buildings as my “homes.” As it turns out, I simply don’t know the language we use. CIA uses a different word for these buildings when they attack them with drones.They are not family homes. They are “compounds”.
More importantly, the victims are not brothers and sisters, moms and dads. They are “militants.” And even though my country is attacking their country, my country is “defending” itself. That’s why we have a Department of “Defense” and not departments of “War” and “Aggression.”
It’s just language. Proper use of words makes all the difference.