On any given day an adult uses an average of 16,000 words to communicate. Clearly words are important to us. They form our opinions, our questions, and shape the way we see the world. Words are natural to many of us, so much so that we often take them for granted. We have become accustomed to each word having a common definition. Meanwhile, we forget where the word and it’s meaning comes from, and don’t account for the connotations and implications that are socially tied to certain words.
We are nearing the end of the second week of this course entitled Globalization and the Ethics of Development. Even still, I am still struggling with the definition of development. What does it mean to be developed- as an individual, a society, or a nation? By definition, if there is a state of development, there must be an end point of being developed and a beginning stage of not being developed. We use terms like developing or under-developed to describe other’s who are different from us, such as “developing countries.”
Currently, the U.S. tends to define development based on the value of goods produced over a one year period, the accumulation of stuff, and technological advancements. Instead development should be framed as the advancement of justice within a given place. Development should mean the expansion of freedoms for all. This shapes development as a constant process, not a means to reach an end point of being “developed.” It also leaves room for each society and each country to develop in its own way.
The meaning around the words we use shape the outcomes of our actions. By continuing to see development as a positive term and a goal to strive for, and by seeing ourselves as a developed country, we perpetuate the oppression is a result of forced global development. The connotations we attach are important. The meaning of words matter. This semester we’ve been forced to think of the meaning behind words so commonly used in discussing the political, economic, and social issues of our nations.
This week we’ve also spent time focusing on some of the economic outcomes of globalization and what this means for social justice. While many of us are far from expert economists, our group has explored wage inequality, labor unions, workers cooperatives, factors of the 2008 economic crisis, and more. It has given us each a new opportunity to understand how the decisions of the U.S. effect other countries throughout the world. It is incredibly frightening to know that our country, with all it’s turmoil, has so much power over global issues. However, this also means that we have the ability to begin working towards social change. It is with this in mind that we prepare ourselves for the remaining semester ahead and the many things we have left to learn. All the while we will be called to think critically about the words we use to shape our understanding of social justice and why the meaning of those words matters.