Using Language to Facilitate Ethics

Ethical Markets - R Global Citizen

Guest Blog by Angus Cunningham, Principal, Authentix Coaches,, November 17, 2010

In a world taken hostage by the psychopaths depicted in the new Ferguson documentary “Inside Job” (which won awards at both Cannes and TIFF), an ethically well-grounded person with his/her head on straight has to have some way to hold his/herself socially when materially well-endowed people are, intentionally or unintentionally, deceptive or unethical, e.g. fatuously jocular or smearingly innuendic, among other “normal” behaviors.

After this week’s G20, we now must face the reality that financially powerful psychopaths are roaming armed with the unbalanced flag of “Freedom!” masking their idiocies.  Even the seemingly august body appearing in the G20 leaders photo-op is, currently, as puny as Roman Senators were before the waves of barbarians coming out of central Europe to sack their city.

What to do? The IHXEN method facilitated the happy reversal of an oppressive situation for a haplessly vulnerable entrepreneur caught by grossly disgraceful executives running a regulated utility, a microcosm of the global problem of ethical behavior in society.

The IHXEN (“I Have X Emotion Now) psycholinguistic, describing one’s situation as something that one can acquire some ability to choose rather than a permanent state of being (a linguistic empowering one to say ‘I have anger’ instead of ‘I am angry’) is a practical way of keeping one’s head connected with one’s body when others are, figuratively, trying to chop it off and when one needs to have the public presence of a Joe Biden to parry the Palinesques about one.

IHXENs are not a cure-all. They do, however, have a salutary power when one is in a tight social corner.  Their power is, in essence, their linguistically automatic correction of one’s social identity to recognize that the word “I” is the most powerful and among the shortest in the English language when one takes great care not to use it, except very consciously, with the word “am”, but instead to use it whenever anxious, troubled, overwhelmed, angry, or suchlike, in an IHXEN.

Did the translator-authors of the King James Bible know that? Did Bertrand Russell know that?

Reading Churchill, I can’t remember noticing an “I am” anywhere. And the same is true of Gandhi’s writings. I think that’s quite remarkable. Don’t you?