Change the Vocabulary

Parrot Advocacy and Rescue starts with the words we use in our work. Our words can undermine our efforts, or they can build on them.

Change the Vocabulary

Any macaws for sale? Depending on your personal vocabulary filter, that question may or may not be painful. For me, it reflects ignorance of vocabulary and meaning. It reflects a simple disinterest in the true value of companion parrots. This short 4 word inquiry is the tip of the spear of problems. I took exception to this question, and left the social group it showed up in. I was then approached with a few choice exclamations and rationalizations as to why this question was perfectly acceptable if not agreeable. Which brought more pain. Because the very group that purports companion parrot admiration and care supports this crude view of companion parrots. You can't have it both ways. There's no more time or room for low mindset, if not lazy assumptions, wrapping arrogant rationalizations while at the same time saying you love companion parrots. You may love having parrots, but you haven't quite found the reality of what the companionship is all about.

Here's what I saw in these 4 words; indifference, impatience, want, disrespect, and flippancy toward a creature worthy of admiration and respect. That's all I saw. That's how I took it. That's why I left that person, that group and their weak substance behind. They want a macaw. Got any? I feel confident that after sellers came forward the very next question is "How much?", "How old is it?" "Does it talk?" "Does it bite?" "Is it plucked?" I'm confident in that because it would be a repeat of many a conversation I have already painfully witnessed.

Yes, paying for a companion parrot is the norm. It is in rescue and retail. I am not arguing the normal of society's commodification processes. I am arguing the accepted attitude and communication coupled with that normal. If companion parrot advocacy is going to become a powerful force for good, then we must adamantly stand against vocabulary that does not support that advocacy's core principles and definition. Human attitudes and beliefs are only changed through words, and peer pressure redefining words in the supporting vocabulary of that belief system. Look at vocabulary requirements inside society when we discuss physical or mental limitations, the color of skin, sexuality, and nationality. I'm not suggesting we go to a political correct corner. I am asking that we all start upgrading our way of speech and think inside our own advocacy of everyday life and our companions.

"Any macaws for sale?" This question tells a value story.

"I'm looking for a companion macaw. Can anyone help me?" This revision tells a value story.

You can see and feel the difference in these two inquiries. They are both powerful. One is powerfully wrong.

Companion Parrot Advocacy is more than money, it is so much more than money. Believe it or not, when proper, meaningful words and beliefs are brought to a mission, the money will follow. And when we change the literal social value system and the climate it creates for companion parrots, the mission changes from rescue, to support, to finally simple education.

I believe in my heart of hearts, that the real advocacy work is in the hearts of people and their understanding. More often than not, rescue and advocacy projects can simply be a process of edification, education and a little intervention. I know this because I have about 3 of these projects a month cross my path. There will be cases where companion parrots will need literal physical rescue. Always. Advocacy and Rescue are parallel missions. Advocacy was made for individuals. Every day we can impact the lives of companion parrots everywhere. And that begins with every word we add to our advocacy vocabulary. And more importantly, every word we remove from our advocacy vocabulary.

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