The crisis of the modern world, from port backlogs and shipping delays to millions suffering under the yoke of forced labor to environmental disasters to the Chinese Communist Party’s recent missile test can be traced back to one single word, its fundamental mistranslation and misapplication.
There are other badly-translated words that have flummoxed the modern English-speaking world before and continue to do so. The original Ancient Greek word for “sin” meant to “miss the mark”, for instance, and the original Sanskrit word for “meditation” was “bhavana”, which didn’t have anything to do with thinking- or not thinking- at all.
Bhavana meant “cultivation of the land”, which for many students of meditation is a far more helpful concept than the idea of clearing the mind.
But one mischaracterized, lost and broken word stands alone: Logos.
In ancient times, “logos” meant “love of God.” In today’s modern, more secular society, it would make sense if that meaning had been expanded to include, “love of something greater than oneself,”- be that community, humanity, the collective unconscious, some understanding of God, brotherly love, or other.
But “logos” doesn’t mean anything like that to our modern ears, does it?
If anything, “logos” by today’s understanding of the King’s English, means “love of money.”
Conspicuous consumerism- that ad gimmick for which we can thank all our favorite name-brands, their product placements and ad campaigns, celebrity spokespeople and trillion-dollar ad budgets- might have been the ultimate undoing of humanity.
We’ve always used goods to and ornamentation to establish ourselves to others throughout history; jewelry and other ostentatious displays of wealth weren’t exactly unknown before the modern age.
Which is why capitalizing on that well-worn human tendency was such a genius marketing strategy.
Humans are social creatures. We want others, even total strangers, to think well of us, even like us. By carrying this bag, wearing…