When I rule the planet (and given the attrition rate of world leaders at present, I am confident that day is not too far away) there are going to be some changes.
First, I am going to nationalise a few things (that’s a little idea I picked up from somewhere). Starting with nice teeth. If you are one of the few amongst us born with a perfect set, that’s obviously unfair and the Government will be reclaiming them. Worse still, if you have chosen to invest your hard-earned money into improving the dentistry you were dealt because you value a nice smile, look out. The State will be taking them all from you in the name of equality. You can keep one, but the others are going to be redistributed to those with less fortunate gums. Thirty-two snaggle-toothed citizens must be better than one beaming beauty amongst us, surely?
However, the biggest target of my nationalisation manifesto will be language. Quite simply, I am going to seize back all the words in the land and then redistribute them evenly amongst the people. Here is how it will work:
At birth, every child, regardless of colour, creed, ethnicity or gender, will be given the same stock of words to use throughout their life. Beware though, once they’re gone, they’re gone. Speak, shout, text or tweet your allotted portion too impetuously and you will be voiceless by the time you are thirty.
Like a giant game of Scrabble, the availability of different words will vary. Phrases of kindness and grace will be in abundance. There will be unlimited access to “please”, “thank you” and “I see your point” for every citizen. Verbs of gratitude will be like wild cards, able to be used anywhere, anytime. That is because I love you all (see, I’ve started already).
Other phrases will be less common. The use of clichés will be closely monitored. You will only be permitted to say, “going forward”, “at the end of the day”, or “get your ducks in a row” a certain number of times in your life before you receive a fine through the mail. Repeated use of “like” will also incur a heavy penalty.
Most importantly though, there are certain words that will be dished out in strictly limited quantities. Hostile rebukes will be a rare commodity. Insults will only be single use. Knowing that you can only ever call another person “stupid”, “inept” or “a loser” once in your life should give you pause to consider whether they really are. Those who are casually violent with their language will soon have nothing left to defend themselves with when a real attack comes.
The same goes for those who catastrophise. The number of times that you can describe something as “disgusting”, “repugnant” or “obscene” will be finite. Use up your stock of emotive adjectives too quickly and, when the day comes that something truly outrageous occurs, you will be speechless. Literally. Rage excessively at small irritations and it will be too bad if, later in life, you then encounter something that genuinely warrants a strong protest.
My purpose in rationing abrasive language available from birth is simple. One day, our children will grow up to become our next generation of politicians and public leaders. By the time they get there, they should have run out of ugly invective. Instead, they will only be able to argue graciously. To pursue their policies and passions with civility. To govern using nothing more than the language of respectful persuasion.
Welcome to my utopia.