The art of choosing the right words

Choosing the right words to compose a communication message is more challenging than it seems. Choosing one word or another can foster understanding or alienation from Nature. Words can mark the difference between conflict or coexistence.

April 26, 2021

Over the last few years, many conservation organisations have been using messages around ‘Speak for Nature’ to promote a change of behaviour and encourage people to stand up and defend those that can’t speak. Trees, mountains, elephants and bears included. Although these messages might empower people to take action, they also send a negative note.

When asking people to ‘Speak for Nature’, you are communicating that Nature does not speak. Wrong. Nature speaks to us every single day. Nature speaks when elephants come near villages because their habitats are disappearing. Nature speaks to us when there is flooding. Nature speaks to us when critical species to ecosystems disappear. Without using words, Nature speaks to us every day.

Just because Nature does not use words does not mean we can put Nature in an inferior category. The same way scientists are finally starting to understand that trees communicate to one another and that there is a net of connections underground that interconnects mushrooms allowing them to send information. Saying Nature does not speak is applying a human characteristic to something non-human and then discriminating the non-human for its lack of human characteristics.

Instead of using messages like ‘Speak for Nature’ that fuel anthropocentric views, we shall send messages that encourage awakening and understanding of our surroundings. To learn to listen to all the languages that do not use words. Maybe we should say something around the lines ‘Learn Nature’s language’, ‘Reconnect with Nature to take action’ or ‘Nature is speaking, listen carefully’.

This is important because words shape our perceptions. You can’t promote coexistence between humans-wildlife-nature if there is a perception that the others are inferior. We need to foster recognition to place Nature as what it is. Something greater than us that we depend on to thrive. In fact, Nature is not even ‘something’. Nature is Mother Earth and is alive. We have to be extremely careful with the wording we use.

As challenging as it might seem at the beginning. Mainly for our lack of education and sensitivity in the area. We must acknowledge every word we use to give to send the right message to promote coexistence.

*To learn more about how language shapes our perceptions, you can read the following article

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