I have a new favourite book: The Oxford English Dictionary! With our “economy” going to hell in a hand basket fairly quickly, I have started looking up the words the press commonly uses to transmit their message. The recent headline “economy about to collapse” spurred me on to enquire about what that actually means. While it sounds threatening enough, the two words that caught my attention were “economy” and “collapse”. So, let’s see what my dictionary has to say, shall we?
“Economy” – is the state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money.
While this might sounds quite straight forwards, as mother culture has us believe, there are so many ambiguous words in there, I had to do some more looking. What is a state? In terms of? Production? Consumption? I think you are catching my drift. I went to a dictionary spree to find out what all this means. So, after some time, here is the definition of economy, less poignant, from what I found:
Economy – is the condition of a territory considered as an organised political unit at a particular point in time, described in the limited language of the making, manufacturing, or creating of and the using up of beneficial possessions and performed duties, as well as the stock or amount of coins and banknotes as a form of payment
Of course, there are still words that I wanted explained: what is money? well, apart from the physical coins and notes, it is wealth, and wealth is a large amount of money, property, or possessions, or the state (remember, that is only a temporary condition) of being rich. Wealth can also be a large amount of something desirable.
Now, why would I go through all this? The words we use, when we use them, we use with all their connotations, however, we are seldom aware of them. We have come to believe that we can make our own words, and give them the meaning we want! Well, while we all make the real meaning of words internally, the dictionary is akin to a guide showing us what the rest of the world thinks something means!
We have forgotten that economy is but one description (and at that, apparently quite a bad one) of certain aspects of our reality, yet we have made it everything. Wealth, growth, money, supply and demand, all these things are talked about as if they were true and the only things that are important! Might that be because we think of success more of the gaining of wealth, fame or social status, rather than the mere achievement of a goal? Have we forgotten that we invented all these concepts, and if we choose to , can change them?
While my definition of economy still is very similar to the official one, I like the fact that it includes words like “limitations and time limits”, as this takes a statement that is permanent to be in fact a description of one aspect of something at one point in time. Nothing is permanent, everything changes!
Language constructs more than describes reality, the very words we use are the building blocks of that construct. That means that the words we use, and their connotations, hold one key to understanding what is going on in the human race. Sadly, leafing through the dictionary, all I find are reminders of the importance of money, fame, social status,…maybe once we started marvelling at ourselves, building museums to celebrate what other humans did, maybe we became a bit wrapped up in ourselves, or not?
P.s: Oh yes, “collapse” is the sudden and complete failure, and at the same time, it can mean the failure as a result of sickness. Which one is it for our economy?? Could it be that it had been sick for a while now, and all we did was ignore the warning signs?