Escalate: to increase in extent, volume, number, amount, intensity, or scope
Escalator: a power-driven set of stairs arranged like an endless belt that ascend or descend continuously; an upward course.
Mother used to work for a department store, Rhodes Brothers. It was a classy place, much as Nordstrom is today. From the moment you'd enter their massive revolving doors the smells alone announced something grand: the aromas of fine cologne mixed with equally fine chocolate, topped with a layer of leather. Nothing equaled it.
What great fun it was to visit her. She'd often buy me lunch in their dining room, where we big girls were served as royalty.
Sometimes we'd stop by the candy department to select a savory treasure. I'm not certain which I enjoyed more: the candy or the little tissue bag that was all mine until I'd savored it's contents into extinction.
But it was the escalator - above all - that captivated me. I'm certain it was among the first of my life adventures now that I recall the sheer terror it represented from a child's perspective.
Fear gripped me when I'd consider how all those moving parts could, most likely, devour me should I place my foot or hand in the wrong place. How brave was I to face down those fears (all the while gripped firmly & securely in mother's hand); and how exhilarating the climb as we advanced higher and higher; doing it all over again as we'd make our way, floor-after-floor, until we reached the pinnacle - the fourth floor - where mother had her office.
We escalated. It was on purpose.
Having gone up the escalator, we'd likewise descend via the same people-moving mechanism. It never occurred to me to refer to the going-down maneuver as de-escalating, but that's exactly what it was. Even so, the term escalator was applied to both. Huh?
I heard the term "to escalate" just the other day; on the news. It was probably associated with war, or some Congressional dispute, or Iran's reckless determination. I made a mental note, just as I envisioned my escalator-riding days of old:
On the one hand they advance upwards; on the other, downwards. In either case, we often call them the same thing. They are not.
That's not to say that descending is bad, in and of itself. Afterall, gravity is a good thing; so too are ladders and roller coasters. It is to say that it's not at all the same thing as ascending.
I remember hearing a song by the group Truth long ago. Titled Living Life Upside-Down, the chorus is all about the business of escalation (or is it de-escalation?).
It comes to mind today as I consider just how the upward and the downward have exchanged places on so many levels. Many of the things that are truly upward & uplifting are spoken of as downward; and an even greater number of things that are downward & degrading (if not altogether dangerous) are spoken of as upward.
The ride/slide down has become synonymous with the ride to higher realms - as if they're the same thing. They are not.
What if we’ve fallen to the bottom of the well
Thinking we’ve risen to the top of a mountain
What if we’re knocking at the gates of hell
Thinking we’re heaven bound
What if we spend our lives thinking of ourselves
When we should have been thinking of each other
What if we reach up and touch the ground
To find we’re living life upside down
and rulers will rule with justice.
No longer will the fool be called noble
nor the scoundrel be highly respected.
... the noble man makes noble plans,
and by noble deeds he stands
(or rides UP the escalator).
Isaiah 32: 1, 5, 8
Since I have yet to master the art of uploading video as a direct embed, you can hear the song, Living Life Upside Down, by clicking here.