I’ve sometimes wondered what would happen if everything we knew was wiped out and we had to start from the very beginning in creating a new language…
What concepts would we value? I think of the Eskimos who have multiple words for snow, since it is so important to their lives.
What about us? What’s important to our lives?
I’d like to think that we’d spend time creating words that talk about relationships–relationships between individuals…with the earth…with our Creator. I’d like to think that the arts would be important. I’d like to think that we would value love–and find ways to differentiate love of food from love of child…parent…spouse. I’d like to think that little of our time would be spent in words of violence…but much in focusing on ways of valuing the diversity each one brings to the community. And I’d hope that community would be an important value.
In many ways–because I am a follower of Jesus–I am called to speak a new language. I John 3:17-18 challenges me this way:
Now, suppose a person has enough to live on and notices another believer in need. How can God’s love be in that person if he doesn’t bother to help the other believer? Dear children, we must show love through actions that are sincere, not through empty words. (God’s Word Translation)
If we are rich and see others in need, yet close our hearts against them, how can we claim that we love God? My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action. (Good News Translation)
Creating a new language isn’t a matter of just making up new words. It isn’t even a matter of creating a complete grammar. It’s knowing the history that is the background of the language…the culture…the values….
And so…what values does our language show? Are they the ones we really want? If not, how can we create a new language?
I think we must! I’m not sure which always comes first–the creation of the language or the living out of the beliefs that will create the language. But I believe that we must both create and live the language of love in order for all to survive and thrive.