Wonder: Language creates community – a lesson from Ann Richards

“Language should bind us, not divide us.” ~Ann Richards

I know Ann Richards for her ballsy and hilarious quote, “I’ve been tested by fire and the fire lost.” I want that on a t-shirt. My friend, Sara, posted something that reminded me it’s high time I read Ann’s autobiography. I loved the play based on her life, ANN, written by and starring Holland Taylor. Ann was one of those lights in history that make it possible for so many of us to carve our own paths today, traditional or otherwise.

As a writer, her quote about language is one from her autobiography that is especially powerful for me. In a world of acronyms and exclusivity, I much prefer Ann’s way of thinking. Too often language is used to divide us—by gender, by race, by religion, by education level, by industry, by socioeconomic status. In her book, Ann said that she prided herself on being a straight shooter, someone who didn’t mince words, sugarcoat, or tip toe around sensitive issues. Keep it simple. Keep it honest. Keep it authentic.

Now working in an industry that is full of acronyms and complicated language, I’m going to keep this quote about language close at hand. In my writing, I want to illuminate not complicate, to clearly communicate rather than separate. And I know from Ann Richards that this is possible.