“The Oxford Dictionary defines…”

It is the classically cringed-at English paper hook; yet, when we live in the age of babel, perhaps we the people could do with some definition.

Like the regime in George Orwell’s “1984”, the American political arena is controlled by words, whose meaning is dictated and changed by the party in power.

Words twist, redefined, or rebranded overnight, and suddenly, no one can give account for the substance.

This phenomenon was on display in the public arena this week, during a Supreme Court hearing concerning affirmative action in university admissions.

Justice Clarence Thomas spoke well, illuminating this issue, “I’ve heard the word diversity quite a few times and I don’t have a clue what it means. It seems to mean everything for everyone.”

There is much merit to diversity– of thought, philosophy, opinion– but if it is virtue itself remains to be determined.

Not even established dictionaries provide a trusted common ground.

While the dictionary’s original author Noah Webster was an outspoken supporter of the Constitution and compiled spellers hoping to standardize American English to bring together distant colonies and provide national unity as distinct from Great Britain, his work has effectively lost all authority.

Merriam-Webster, the nation’s leading expert on all things diction, notoriously has shifted definitions subtly but surely these past two years particularly.

SEE ALSO: If We Really Can’t Define “Woman,” the West is in Serious Trouble

If one went to the website to answer Matt Walsh’s iconic question “What is a Woman?”, you would be positively twisted in knots.

A woman is “an adult female person.” Female means “having a gender identity that is opposite of male.” While gender identity means “a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female”.

So that really clears the air.

Recently, I received an email from a professor addressing the class as Folx. Luckily for me, even though the dictionary cannot properly define womanhood, Merriam-Webster is up to date on the Newspeak floating around campus.

Divided speech divides people. It is a tale as old as the tower itself.

Since common language is essential to a common people, where should we look to find it?

I suggest that if America can return to the same stories, we can rebuild our dictionary together.

If we can read Homer’s Odyssey, we can define cunning with the help of Odysseus. If we can digest Plato’s “Apology”, we can define wisdom with Socrates. If we can understand the life of Washington, we can define servant leadership. If we can listen to Jane Austen and Aeneas’ Dido, we can define what a woman is.

Language is the fundamental currency of mankind. America needs to invest in it.

Catie Robertson is an intern with the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Government.

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