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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Saving the world one language at a time

This post is going to be a little unusual, a little more serious.  Recently, a friend moved to Germany, I am not sure why, but she was living in Scotland, originally from the American South, and somehow she ended up, by choice, in Germany.  People can be so unpredictable.   But, that is not what this is about, anyway.  What this is about is hope, possibilities, and a chance for the future.

While still a child I remember reading, with horror, the eye witness accounts of the genocide in Cambodia.  Today, we are inundated with reporting of the brutality of African warlords and their child armies.  And, I have been taught enough history to know that this is not abnormal.  Pick almost any era and there was more than enough savagery to go around.  It was business as usual, the march of progress, those who could, did, without reservation, to those powerless to stop them.  It seems that humankind is hell bent on self immolation, and all that is lacking is the means, and that is not really lacking, it is only limited, temporarily to the biggest of the the lunatics in charge of the asylum.  Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether* with nuclear weaponry.

What does this have to do with an American\Scottish expatriate living in Germany?   Probably not too much, but, maybe it should.

She talks often about going places with her "friends."  When asked where she had made all of these friends in such a short time.  she explained that mostly, they are from a German class she is taking.  Her friends come from all over the world.  And they get along famously, having fun, sharing, enjoying each other.  They have barbecues, and go to festivals, and since they are in Germany sometimes they have beer and bratwurst together.

Here is a group of individuals, from different parts of the world, whose only connection seems to be wanting to learn German, and, live in Germany (none of them probably moved there just to learn German).  Somehow, they have formed the bonds of friendships, bonds of community and mutual respect.  And, they seem to have fun together, and though they drift in and out of each others lives they are replaced by fresh, new faces, and still remembered fondly, and that seems amazing.

If it is possible for this microcosm of society to pull off such a feat of friendship why can't the larger world, and those entrusted with its care?  Why do we have to spend so much time thinking about, and emphasizing our differences?  Why can't we all "try to learn German together"?

Would that be too much to ask of the people in charge, "the suits running the store"?  It has benefited my friend, and her friends, wouldn't we all benefit from something like that?  I know, it is silly to try to change the world, a single person can accomplish nothing.  But, what if we start a movement, the "Life Explained Learning German Movement."

Maybe that is where we should start, maybe language is the key.  If we all try to learn together we can come to understand that there is not that much separating us.   Maybe I'm a dreamer, a hopeless idealist, but we should try to think up something, (I'm open to suggestions) as the man said "we can all sink, or we can all float, because we're all in the same big boat."**

*"The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether."  Edgar Allen Poe
** "One World."  Written by Sting.