Shall we reconsider ‘free speech’?
One of the leading concepts of my life and work can be summed up in the word ‘abracadabra’, which etymologically is an Aramaic word meaning ‘I create as I speak’.
From almost two decades of experience in the use of language in sales, persuasion, hypnosis, coaching, leadership and creative writing, I know full well the power words have to literally generate form and behavior out of thin air. Through learning to spell, we learn to cast spells. It can happen suddenly and like magic – hence our present meaning of the word ‘abracadabra’.
A skilled communicator knows a brother when he meets one. Trump, likely in only this way, is absolutely a brother. In his craft, he is like Hemingway, using common language to evoke the simplest of orientations and experiences.
As a magician, I learned the best place to hide the truth is in plain sight. Trump gets this too. He is a master communicator. For his bigotry, we doubt this, but it is a mistake. As opponents, we are confusing a man with seemingly damaged values for stupid and this is our greatest weakness. When he speaks, we are wow’d with surprise. If we saw him as smarter than Hillary and her entire campaign (which I believe he is), then I think we would be less mystified and surprised by what he says. We are experiencing him without understanding and this is how magic works. It has its power over us until, sometimes sadly, we can see how the trick works.
But I digress…
Trump the Magician knows full well what he is doing when he speaks. He is creating a rising opposition of anger and focusing its behavior more and more on violence. He is methodical, strategic and patient – all great skills in a world leader. Except, of course, when they are holstered to the hip of a blood thirsty egomaniac on a life-long power trip.
So what are we to do? Are we to shut him up?
I agree with what J. K. Rowling says about how we must give Donald the same freedom to speak that we want for ourselves.
At the same time, in Rowling’s wizarding world of Harry Potter, it is frowned upon for wizards to use their magic on muggles. Child wizards aren’t even allowed to use magic in the presence of muggles until they are 18. The wizards recognize their wand has an inequitable power over common people. Through democratic agreement, they regulate the use of their own power.
Most of us cannot see Donald the Wizard’s magic. We merely look with confusion as sofas and tables float over the surface of our nation. We gasp as people we know to be good – members of our own family in fact – do not see the darkness in the power that is moving them.
If our words create, then shall we really be free to use them at will?
No matter how powerful of a wizard we are, shall we be free to wield spells in any way we deem desirable and as far reaching as we’d like?
Since I was young, I have had a mostly absolutist opinion concerning free speech. ‘Hate speech’ has sometimes been a caveat for me, but even that not always.
Not until now have I considered that freedom of speech may be best tempered with a respect for the power it has. In all my years at my own version of Hogwarts, I’ve never met such a dark wizard before.
How, though, do we limit speech for its magical power? Muggles cannot see wizards. It only works the other way around.
The world, I fear, is truly a realpolitik. Not only by money, but too – and maybe even more so – by the magical power of words.
To create a better world then, maybe instead of considering whether speech be free or not, it would serve us to learn to be wizards. The moment we see the trick, magic loses its power over us.
We can call it ‘learning to use the force’ so that ‘light can triumph over darkness’, but I think this puts it too far in the realm of the non-pragmatic.
Wizardry in this world, as it has been for thousands of years, is the crafty use of language. Through our spelling we cast spells. The matrix for us to see is the web of meanings within our own minds. Webs made of neurons of phonemes of letters of words. How they connect is the map to our understanding.
Seek people who can help you to see. Find those who can help you to spell. Learn magic and you will be free from the speech of others. Remember, please, that with great power comes great responsibility and be measured in your use of power amongst muggles.