Sunday, April 02, 2006

Langauge is a barometer of world peace

A different language is a different vision of life.
- Federico Fellini, film director and writer (1920-1993)

A language develops out of a need for a people to communicate in a way that is different from the way neighbouring peoples communicate with each other.

The need for difference might not be simply for security, but more likely because one people does things differently from their neighbours, make different objects, have different crafts, create diffeent foods, wear different styles of clothing, have different beliefs and customs.

Those differences are what distinguish one people from another visually, but language distinguishes them emotionally and socially. Much of their cohesiveness as a cultural group depends on the uniqueness of their language, even though some language in common is necessary for trading purposes.

As we see literally dozes of languages disappearing from our planet each year and increasing numbers of people speaking fewer languages, we hear more about a global community, common global issues, global needs and global solutions.

Today's world has more need for people to work together as one massive community than it does for thousands of fractious cultural groups, each with its own inadequate and perhaps destructive agenda for the future.

Ironically, war drives people apart, so they see their need to be different from larger masses of people rather than their need for common bonds.

It's not peace itself, but economics and security in peacetime that bring the needs of all people to their attention.

The more people speak fewer languages, the more we should see that as a sign that those people see their collective needs as being more important than their local or regional needs.

We all, today, feel a need for global peace. Believe it or not, there are fewer wars, insurrections and acts of genocide happening in the world today than there have ever been before in our history. Our media make it seem different from that, but the United Nations keeps track of such things.

The more our media report about wars, genocide and global pollution, the more inclined we are to see a global need for peace, security and clean air and water. That means we think more globally, even though any solutions are always local.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to enlighten us about how our needs shape our lives.
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