Saturday, 3 July 2010


I was told by a couple of different managers last week that I was obviously "passionate" about my work.

It's a word I struggle with. You can be passionate about a woman. Catholic friends have talked long into the night, over far too much drink, about, "the passion of Christ." It's a word that is often over used.

Some words that had a strong meaning are hijacked and over used, to somehow increase the weak meaning of a point. Politicians, they're often doing it. Politicians are presented with a statement of how they cocked up. How do they respond?
"Erm, yeah, bit of a mess I made, wasn't it?" Nope, never.
"Hey, it wasn't my fault!" Sometimes, but then politicians in power have responsibility so it's their fault or their bosses, so it's not a response we see so often now.
"I deny that!" This used to be a common response. Whatever some half arsed journo dreamt up as a claim, it's just dismissed and brushed aside. Doesn't sound convincing or drawing a line under it, though.
"I refute that!"
It's refuted.
A refutation, what is that? It's much stronger than a denial. It sounds clever and impressive and definitive, how can the conversation possibly continue once the debater has refuted the argument you've contended? Your argument, by definition, has been proven false.

Of course, they say they refute the charge, but they don't offer the evidence that then goes beyond explaining and suggesting and incontestably provides the necessary proof that they're right.

But still, politicians continue to say they "refute" a claim instead of saying they "deny" or "don't like" a claim, despite this being more accurate. Refute is carelessly used by politicians and is becoming a weaker word through such use, soon to lose it's definitive meaning of proof and simply be a posh way of saying deny.

I like a range of words, with subtly different meanings.

So is it right to claim to be passionate about work? I love David Mitchell's rant about passion because it's exactly how I think. Passion is a word that's vastly over used.

But then I saw a video about an astrophyscist who's the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York. The clip is here, the site is here, click When I Look Up. Okay, maybe some people are passionate about their job, their speciality, their field, their work . . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Politicians have no more respect for the literal meaning of words than they do for morality and ethics, they'll do whatever it takes to maintain political power , as you know. We're also taught and expected to keep our passions under tight control and a case in point is the Modern Matron of my local NHS mental health Trust as he appeared to really struggle to maintain his composure at public meetings when pronouncing with breaking voice that he was

"passionate about user involvement and patient care"

He'd usually stand up to deliver this spiel almost shaking with emotion and then trail off abruptly and sit down again as if overwhelmed by the very idea that anyone could ever possibly doubt how passionately he cared about these two core aspects of his work and of course the audience would be stunned by the strength of feeling expressed and few people present had the heart to openly raise concerns about the care or mistreatment of patients after such a passionate display of personal and professional commitment.

Its one of those quirks of human psychology, I suppose, people admire those who seem really passionate about their work and look up to them .

Last year I watched the Modern Matron, now retired , give the same speech , word for word, in a hushed courtroom when he was called to give evidence to defend his Trust against a charge of Disability Discrimination. At one point I really thought he was going to break down and cry.