What do "identity," "sharing economy" and "face with tears of joy emoji" have in common?
Not a lot at first blush! But they've each been selected as the 2015 "Word of the Year" - by Dictionary.com, the Australian National Dictionary Centre, and the Oxford Dictionary respectively. The decisions were based on the prominence and frequency of usage of the terms throughout the year.
Did you affect their choice?
You certainly did if you were part of the intense debate about cultural and racial identity weaving its way in and out of the news all last year, or if you participated in the equally impassioned discussions about our understanding of gender and sexuality. As human thought wrestles with these issues, standpoints taken for granted down the centuries are being re-evaluated.
Apart from the social and political questions being raised, the desire for a clearer view of identity has also been the subject of research.
For instance, one studyfound our brains can't really fit into categories of "male" or "female" but consist of a range of qualities displayed uniquely by each of us, irrespective of gender.
To me, this hints at what a health reformer and spiritual thinker named Mary Baker Eddy discovered about our underlying spiritual nature - which she demonstrated in the healing of physical and mental illness on the basis of what she discerned.
"Gender means simply kind or sort," is "not confined to sexuality" and is "mental, not material," she explains in the bestseller, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
When her husband passed away, Annurealised she needed to put into practice what she'd read in this book, and understand more deeply how we're each a union of feminine and masculine qualities - of gentleness, love and beauty as well as strength, understanding and wisdom, and so on. Rather than identifying herself as a woman needing a man to be whole, Annu found this understanding about individual completeness made her free from many restrictions in her new circumstances.
You also affected the Word of the Year if you took an interest in the evolving idea of a "sharing economy". This is defined as an economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet. (Oxford Dictionary)
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