Monday, May 28, 2007

Topsy-Turvy World

Words are curious things. Without them, written communication would be near impossible. With them, communication often is ambiguous, at best. It's not that words necessarily are imprecise; it's more the way each person hears words and individually or collectively comprehends each one.

Descriptive words -- whether adjectives or nouns -- frequently cause all sorts of confusion. Take the words far and long. What is far or long to one person may be quite near or short to another.

Then there are words that seem to indicate one thing when they really indicate something altogether different. A ground hog is not a pig but a rodent. A pineapple doesn't grow on a pine tree nor is it an apple. And what is it it that conservatives are attempting to conserve?

To conserve means to protect from loss or harm; preserve; to use carefully or sparingly, avoiding waste. Yet, it is political conservatives who tend to favor policies, laws and strategies that harm and use up our finite environmental resources. It is many of these same individuals who castigate the science behind global warming.

Contrast this position with political radicals (e.g., tree hugging environmentalists). It is the radicals who desire to protect from loss or harm and preserve our natural world. This is the group that opposes clear-cutting of forests, nuclear energy and its concomitant waste, defiling of our air and war, and promotes such ideas as alternative energy initiatives and reining in urban sprawl.

Consequently, when it comes to environmental issues, we find that we live in a topsy-turvy world. The so-called conservative favors a radical and nonsustainable approach, while the so-called radical takes the conservative position.

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