Time to dump ‘together’ for something real

By Lindsay Slogrove Time of article published Jun 27, 2020

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Together.

The most overused, abused, hackneyed, trite word in common usage today.

It should be a beautiful word, filled with hope, mutual respect and support, and above all, action.

It should be, for example, a parent, teacher or mentor assuring a young person that we’ll tackle this tough challenge “together”, then sitting down and actually working on the problem until a solution is found.

It should be people checking over their neighbours’ walls to see how they really are, and if they are struggling, offering valid, concrete, actionable help or support. Or asking for help if you need it.

It should be - especially in these desperate Covid-19 times of separation - making sure your family, friends and colleagues are really okay. It’s doing all you can to make sure they know because you have made the call or email to offer support, or letting them know you’re not really okay, or that they can count on you to be there when they have a meltdown or a win and need to share.

The “T” word has been hijacked by politicians across the board, companies, organisations, governments, talking heads, social media, among others, suggesting the offer of a place in the discussion or plan to find or work towards an active solution or end result.

I can’t offer scientific evidence, but I started noticing it back in 2016 during the US presidential election. During the Brexit battles, it got to the point that Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn could not give a speech or a soundbite without chucking it in, and also became a go-to term for Europe’s headshed during that time.

We are going to beat Covid-19 together. Everyone was going to do everything together.

How did that all work out?

If you watch or read enough commentary, you can anticipate when the word will make its appearance because it’s so easy to use, a throwaway panacea intended to calm many troubled souls, offered without thought about what it really means and how the proffered “togetherness” will work.

It’s even more ridiculous now, in a time of social distancing and avoidance of other people, to say we can rise to the challenge “together”.

Thankfully, there are people around the world who are actually joining forces to achieve good and reaching out to those desperately in need, to help in any way they can.

Wearing masks and washing or sanitising our hands is something we can actually do together, and protects all of us. Staying away from vulnerable people is a considerate action that shows care. Listening and hearing what people say about their needs is only the first act of togetherness.

Mindful eating became a “thing” when people started really thinking about one of humanity’s most basic activities. Mindful considerations of what words mean, when you say them or hear them, fulfils another basic need - being heard, and being part of a plan that delivers.

Let’s start with dumping together until it means something again. Instead we can stand as one, shoulder to shoulder, co-operate in partnership in unison, side by side.

Just not hand in hand or cheek by jowl for now.

  • Slogrove is the news editor

The Independent on Saturday

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