Love and language

When two come to the table, they must submit to the other in love.
When two come to the table for a dispute, they must submit to the other in love.

I’ve recently been attacked as a “cuck” for being a “pro-diversity pro-immigration liberal.” Another person, described as a “liberal and a first amendment fan,” respectfully disagreed with me. (I appreciated the latter much more than the former, I have to say.)

What was the position that got me stuck between two sides? I believe that dialogue between opposing sides has to take place as a prerequisite for the two sides to come to an agreement. The winner can’t be chosen ahead of time according to ideological criteria. We can’t decide ahead of time that the immigrant is right, or the person of color is right, that the anti-immigrant or racist is right. They have to sit and work it out.

Tyranny of the majority is just as bad as tyranny of the minority or even of the one. The majority, even the “just,” may be on the side of one or the other, but it doesn’t matter when the two are at the table together. Might does not make right.

Two come to the table to work out their dispute on equal terms. This assumes that neither sees himself as greater than the other, but each seeks to submit to the other. This is the ideal that I aim at, one where each seeks to become wise by loving the other in humble service.

Language helps us achieve the goal of resolving disputes. The people at the table cannot come to an agreement without a common language.

As for me, I want to love others in wisdom. I submit to the other in order to love him, even my right to speak my own language. I serve the one I’m discussing with by conceding my language.

As I posted previously, wisdom is predicated on humble submission to another in love. When I assume that I need to learn from another, I can be wise. Honestly speaking, sometimes I know more than the other person, but if the other person doesn’t want to learn from me, I have to be humble enough to smile and wish him “Good day!” But for this post, let’s assume that we come to the table with more or less the same knowledge.

The conversation may well be lopsided. I cannot assume that the other person is striving for wisdom in love; I have to strive for them, however.

I am not allowed to impose one language on the other. When the two of us come to the table, and one speaks only Apache and the other only English, we are at an impasse. I cannot assume that the Apache-speaker does or should know English, or that he’ll learn.

In this paradigm of humble submission in love, I believe that I have the duty to learn the language of the other. One language is not inherently better or more important than another. Even if one is perceived as “harder,” it does not make a difference. (Honestly, I don’t believe that one language is inherently harder than another. One language may be more closely related to my native language, but that makes it only subjectively easier, not objectively so.)

Just like in any dispute, each side must make concessions to move the discussion along; so we have to decide which language to speak.

For this reason, I think as a person who desires to be wise in love, I have a duty to learn the language of the other person. I cannot impose my language on another.

When I meet a refugee, we nearly always speak in English because he already spent more time learning English than I spent on their language. The only correct response is to thank him for learning my language and already submitting to me, and to ask for forgiveness from him that I have not taken the first step to submitting to him in love.

How do we use our love of languages to love those who speak them?

Photo credit: MCAD Library via / CC BY

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