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Words Matter

JAN 22, 2021

At the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the amazing 22-year-old poet, Amanda Gorman, finished her beautiful poem with the words: “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it”. I guess I wasn’t the only one with tears in my eyes.

Coincidently, this morning I read a morning report from DNB with a link to a YouTube video by Robert Shiller talking about how narratives form us. One narrative could be that artificial intelligence can take our jobs away. The point is that if “everyone” starts believing a narrative, it will have an impact. This is true for a number of similar narratives and the Nobel Laureate in Finance compared the growth and spread of narratives to the spread of Ebola. Have in mind that his video was taped 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

I believe words matter. I believe we can change the narrative. We can move away from alternative facts and conspiracy theories. President Biden said in his inaugural speech that “we must lead not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of example”. And Amanda Gorman said “if we´re brave enough to be it”.

For me this is a very strong appeal. It is not sufficient to be a spectator. It is not sufficient to have the information that change is necessary. It is not even sufficient to have the knowledge or insights, if we remain silent. What is needed is to sign up, to commit, to take part.

In the CNN interview that was made after the inauguration, I was blown away. Amanda shows to the world the power of words. Policy can be poetry, and poetry can be politics. Now, there is a new narrative for us, of hope, light, unity, love and healing. Big words, but this is what we need in order to deal with the challenges ahead of us, whether it is race, equality, opportunities for all, climate change or financial inclusion.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. As companies we need to find how we can make a difference, how we become an active part of this narrative. The narrative we should believe in.

See the video of Robert Schiller here: https://youtu.be/yLsG4R8FFOc

Image source: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press