Much of my work involves assisting groups to cultivate and master new language. Sometimes this requires the renewal of existing language and sometimes it requires coming up with new terms, words and ideas.
In the work of Indigenous or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership development the use of language is very important. Who do we see as allies and who we see as enemies? Do we really believe that change is possible, or are we resigned to the inevitable demise of our peoples and cultures? These are some of the uses of language that can either orientate us to a hopeful and purposeful engagement on leadership or it can direct us to merely marking time.
When we try to engage across cultures and engage together we will encounter similar options for the use of language. However, we also have the added dynamic of a fear of offence. This can paralyse us. It can cause us to maintain our estranged positions and not learn new dimensions in our relationships and in ourselves.
But let’s face it. If our public leadership is descending into the kind of language that we are ashamed of, then we are left with a leadership vacuum in national language.
So we are presented with a challenge. How hopeful is our desire for our nation? How much are we prepared to cultivate new language? What new dimensions in relationships across cultures are we prepared to start exploring today?