How the Language We Use Can Bring About Unity
Language is an unacknowledged component of social transformation.
Posted January 27, 2023 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
- The language people use can be a means to bring about social transformation.
- "The 1619 Project," released on Hulu, explores how racist language divides working-class people who would otherwise share a common cause.
- On the cusp of global integration, a new story of wholeness is needed to frame this interconnectedness, using language and narratives of unity.
We use language to communicate everything that’s important to us, everything we want others to know. We use language to tell stories that convey the meaning and truth we live by. Language can also be a means to create the future we want to live into. The language we use is one of the most unacknowledged components of bringing about social transformation.
The Vital Need for Unitive Language
The release this week of The 1619 Project documentary on Hulu, three years after the New York Times Magazine article1 fueled much national debate about how the use of racist language divides white working-class and Black working-class people who would otherwise share a common cause, is a stark reminder of the power of language. In this documentary, capitalism itself is said to have been built upon the ideology of race, a social construction that exploited all laborers, not just slaves, and divided them from the white, landed elite, the effects of which are still felt today.
With ethnic diversity, women and gender, human rights, public policy, and ethics among the central issues and values of the field of linguistics,2 it would seem that more research could be done on how language can unite the human family, rather than separate it.
It is well known that a national language promotes national unity. But what about the use of unitive languaging in whatever language is used? Would this promote global unity?
In these divisive times, using language to help bring about unity is critically important. Language can be a catalyst for the evolution of consciousness and can be used in ways that facilitate universal human rights, equality, and harmony.
Stories and narratives have always been central to this endeavor. The first peoples gathered to share stories that embodied the values and principles they lived by. These stories held the community together. They were unitive narratives, essential to their well-being.
Over time, communities expanded, spread out, became more diverse, and experienced conflict and disorder. Out of this discord emerged divisive narratives that maintained separation.
As we approach a consciousness of global integration, a new story of our wholeness3 is needed to frame this emerging interconnectedness. Humanity has arrived at a time when it is necessary for our own survival to come together again through unitive narratives that express the unified nature of reality.
The narratives we use to define us need to be unifying. Consciously choosing language that comes from and speaks to the heart carries a power that can heal the wounds of the centuries.
We are entering the unitive age when individually and collectively we will come to a vision of reality as one, the understanding of our undivided wholeness, and the desire to work collaboratively toward our common destiny.
This unitive impulse is coming through us, bringing us together to fulfill the unitive function of the whole. Emerging now is the realization that only narratives guiding us toward wholeness will serve this evolutionary impulse.
Unitive narratives address the needs of our time, help us regain a natural balance in the world, and invite us to embrace the wisdom of the complementarity and wholeness of seemingly opposing forces. This is how binaries like feminine and masculine qualities can become more valued as human attributes rather than a reason to divide us along gender lines.
Language That Brings Us Together
Adopting the language of unity will assist in achieving a common understanding of certain core terms that underly every language. Shifting the focus toward unitive languaging in the way we use terms foundational to any language could change much in the way we relate to each other. Here is how we can understand and use a few of those key terms central to language itself to help unify us all:
- Myth is a metaphorical representation of a truth to live by.
- Story is a weaving together of a sequence of events that may or may not be true.
- Narrative is the form, structure, or pattern an ongoing myth or story is told in.
- Unitive narrative is a truthful personal or collective story of living into the wholeness all around us.
Wholeness in this context is experienced in the qualities of completeness, harmony, balance, and unity within all the parts of a whole.
The use of a unitive language in describing various parts of the unified nature of reality is just beginning to be understood and applied now. As this develops further, unitive language will be seen as language that brings about unity; unitive justice as justice that brings about unity; unitive healing as healing that brings about unity; and unitive narratives as narratives that bring about unity.
Unity is the primary characteristic of the wholeness of all things. Understanding this and applying it in everything we do, especially in the language we use, will help us live into the understanding that wholeness is all there is.
3. Atkinson, R. (2022). A New Story of Wholeness: An Experiential Guide for Connecting the Human Family. NY: Light on Light Press.