“The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 12 months. Every year, Oxford University Press debates candidates for word of the year and chooses a winner that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.”

In 2016 the word was; Post-truth. According to Oxford Dictionaries, Post-truth is an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

If it hadn’t been used already it might have been a candidate for the next word. Observing the unrest around the world related to Covid-19, and so much animosity breaks my heart. I’m not talking about pro or against anything. People talk about excluding, or being excluded, from society. In the shared space there is unclarity about truths and facts and which is which. Considerable effort is made on the exclusion of opinions. As if we’re all walking around in an Escher illustration, endlessly wandering, never meeting.

“Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but antipolitical, perhaps the most powerful of all anti-political forces.”  ― Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition.

Crime witnesses can look at the same event and come up with completely different reports. Somewhere in the stack of accumulated information is what really happened.  I’m sure each one of us sees different aspects of what is coming to us in the news, or in our cities, neighborhoods, organizations, and through families and friends. 

There is a gap in what we see and how we see it. It is very human to see things as if we’re looking through a filter. The filters are formed, and altered, as we move through life.  Vygotsky calls these ‘the cultural habit of behavior’ and most of the time it is a good thing.  It helps us make sense of the world and connect with other people. It can make it very easy to copy habits and practices from others and learn fast.  When the topic is more complex, requiring adaptation, it can hinder human connection. You see the same thing and look at it with a different filter.  Filters change all the time, also yours. A reason why we look at historical events differently than when they happened.

And you can see it back in the language we use. The meaning we give to words can be interpreted differently as well. Even languages themselves have different ways of conveying meaning. Some have a vast array of words that have a slightly different meaning to be very precise. Others use the same words and change meaning through context and voice intonation. Professions have a tailored vocabulary depending on the nature of their job e.g. action, building, caring, etc.

“The common prejudice that love is as common as “romance” may be due to the fact that we all learned about it first through poetry. But the poets fool us; they are the only ones to whom love is not only a crucial but an indispensable experience, which entitles them to mistake it for a universal one.” ― Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

I’m calling for ‘Love’ to be the next Word of the Year. Without rose-tinted spectacles, from a deep human connection whatever your perspective.

Learn to see, and lead in the world with fewer filters, learn to lead from Love.