We are all products of the culture in which we were raised and live. This is includes our language and the symbols we use to understand the world. The result of being a product of our culture is thinking our culture is better than all other cultures. This is called prejudice. No one is exempt from prejudices, but we can expose them and change our language to reflect something different with our words.
For example, “First world problems”, a tag line seen on many a facebook post, which I have spurted out myself from time to time, is as prejudice as it comes. It is derogatory and degrading. The most developed countries (first world) can see themselves as better than developing countries (second world), and much better than underdeveloped countries (third world). Using the terms of “first world” and “third world” is a form of language that degrades. I am guilty of this linguistic degredation.
The truth is that the “third world” or “underdeveloped” countries are the majority world. The largest percentages of people live in undeveloped and developing countries. The definitions we assign to these peoples and countries also define how we view these peoples. The “first world” consumes and wastes more than can be imagined. Check out these crazy stats: http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810.
The “third world” wants to be the “first world”. If becoming a “first world” is the dream for the rest of the world, there will be no world left. Now, if we change our linguistic definitions, maybe the way we see and approach the world will change too. What if this became our lingo: “I live in the minority world consuming the majority of resources at the expense of the majority world who survive off a minority of resources.”
If the developed world, the “first world” is the best world, the most intelligent world, the most advanced world, than this world should be setting an example for the less advanced world to pursue, a sustainable world that seeks the betterment of all worlds. Change is unavoidable. Let’s start by changing our language.