A Social Justice and Faith Webzine


maura hanrahan

by Maura Hanrahan

Language is one of the ways we make ourselves known to each other. Words let us convey our feelings and ideas. Our choices about which words to use really matters. Here are some terms that concern me.

     "Less fortunate." This is a feel-good phrase. It’s completely unpoliticized, but usually appears in instances that call for political awareness. It also patronizes whoever it describes.

     The phrase "less fortunate" has enjoyed seemingly unending ascendancy since I first became aware of it as a student in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. My adopted country was run by an alpha-PM who famously propagandized "there is no such thing as society, only individual men and women and families". Suddenly "less fortunate" was all over the place. We could now mindlessly believe that people slept in the streets, because they weren’t as fortunate as those of us who had roofs over our heads. It was a matter of luck really —nothing to do with Britain’s dog-eat-dog economic system and the dismantling of the welfare state.


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