A well-known national business in the telecoms industry in Singapore recently answered an emergency call for help over a down telephone line with the words “This is an Automated Service”. A clash of the meanings of adjacent words like these is known as a ‘bronchobabble’. There are few bronchobabbles as mind-boggling as ‘Automated Service’. Service is about personal, intelligent help. Automation cannot be this sort of service. Automation is a pre-thought process. The repetitive use of the two words Automated Service is blurring the meaning of service. With eight billion people on the planet, the need for jobs is growing. Some of the best experiences of life are giving and receiving service. Both providing it and accepting it are a necessary part of life.
Humanity, as we know it, would be inconceivable without service.
The problem is bigger than bronchobabble. It is about both ‘The Heart of the Matter’ and ‘Plain Speaking’. Looking back over the thirty plus years we have been running our mentoring, coaching and training services, we observe a decline both in getting to the point and in articulating it clearly. Why is this? Perhaps partly because the development of technology has outpaced human understanding of the importance of accurate communication. With others, I would describe today’s attention to what we say and how we say it as ‘sloppy’. Shortcuts, mnemonics and abbreviations are necessary – but not to the point where they become jargon generators, promoting competition about who is up to date and superior.
Digitisation is vitally important but we need to recognise that with it comes a shift from thought to process. Instead of the individual having to think about what they are doing, they follow a process that gives them no discretion about how to tackle a job. This has the advantage that mistakes are reduced – but we have already learned that mistakes are a source of knowledge and creativity. In the broader picture of humanity, do we want automatons or would we prefer fellow creatures who develop themselves, become imaginative and enhance the brains they have already developed significantly? Which will enable us to participate more fully in life and enjoy the pleasures the world affords?
Which is likely to lead to more cohesive living?
The shock of the pandemic led us to realise that what we want is happiness. We know very little about what contributes to our happiness and what causes our misery. Material Sufficiency clearly makes for a more comfortable life. Material Excess now looks as though it is a cause of pain and discontent, warping our purpose for being here. Sharing our material benefits is one way to help alleviate the very poor. The injunction that we should teach people to fish rather than just give them food is correct – more demanding but more useful.
Cultural changes to a society take a while to become understood and accepted. Rejuvenating humanity will not be achieved overnight. It should begin now, with the very young. Secondary school is not too early to get people thinking about what they want out of life. It prepares them for the turbulent teens when their characters are being formed. Education, which includes parenting, employing, nursing and growing, is at the root of a better society.
Enabling people to think for themselves is The Heart of the Matter.
Where have you seen that in a political manifesto?
Can you help reshape education to make us think about the purpose of life?
If you can, please tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
21 November 2022