August 08, 2008

On this most auspicious date, I set aside other commentary to explain, a little, why what I say here seems sometimes to lean to one side, and that an unfamiliar one.

I write in English, I assume it is mostly English readers who will see this blog: and on the Internet that means easily 70% of all who read this will hail from the United States, with maybe another 20% from the United Kingdom.

If I am to serve as a bridge, I scarcely need to reinforce existing belief structures! For the most part, we already speak the language of our own souls, our communities, perhaps even our countries. There are more than enough interest groups and cliques and common believers around that probably each person reading this not only appears rational to themself, but shares that view of a common rationality with one and probably more groups of Internet people.

Switch to the non-English speaking, however: and all at once the bridge can't seem to reach. Perhaps, sometimes, the engineers don't even try. After all, if we did not love our respective countries (or perhaps our local pieces of those countries), we would long since have abandoned them. Why wouldn't others want to share in what we already know? Why wouldn't others want to be more like us?

Yet there are many, many cultures around the world, each of which tugs as strongly at its members as our own.

And so we arrive at a terrible oxymoron. Can we learn to accept a world where not all societies will end up holding the same values? or are we eternally limited to forcing others to speak the world as we see it, for their very survival and for our own?

I love the richness of multilingualism. I love the parts which cannot be translated except in the speaking and the native understanding. I think that to limit ourselves to societal monolingualism is impoverishing, and that some measure of societal multilingualism -- understanding and appreciation and respect for the cultures and values of other peoples -- would enrich our world as a whole.

In the bridging, the span necessarily takes on elements of both sides: but until the bridge is established and solid, each side will only ever see that part which is unfamiliar.

When you look at me, what is it that you see?

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