Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm not sure if this falls under the tangent category, but it comes close.

I just finished an online class this last weekend. I had to write a reflective paper for the end of it on the sociological influences in my life and the way these influences shaped me.

I don't know if you've heard the theory that language is the way we know things. It's the Sapir-Whorf theory. They decided that our reality is defined by the language we know. While it is true that language can in various ways influence our perceptions, it is not always so. For instance, children know what families and parents are (if they've had the real representations) before they speak or comprehend language. There are other cases that it has more of an effect.

The most obvious case would involve the idea of love. In other languages there are many words for many loves. I think Americans may have various ideas that they apply to the one word we have. Or, maybe, we do have other words for love but we do not connect these words with the idea of love that the actual word means to us. I don't know if that made any sense. Example, kindness is love, respect is love, commitment is love, and many more but these words don't always necessarily involve love. You can be kind or commit to another person out of selfishness or pride. Also our word love, which applies to friends, family, objects, romances, this word has no clear definition. There is no universal implication other than a feeling or emotion.

This is one example. Of my friends who are fluent in other languages they all have perceptions they recognize more clearly than I can because they know words that express those ideas that English hasn't given language to.

And so to bring this full circle (I know you've forgotten where I started, if you've had the patience to come this far with me at all) as I was examining myself from a sociological perspective, one of the things that caught my attention was the language that I grew up with: the christian language (or jargon, if you please).

I have always had an awareness of spirituality, and I think the language I know has something to do with it. I've been able to grasp, at least what I've become capable of grasping, concepts like grace, eternity, and so on. I find more meaning in words like love, consequences, absolute, humility, than I otherwise would have. And then, if I occasionally care to step outside of the utterly important little world of me, I find that there are other human beings and that they also live in a spiritual world and all that implies.

I've come to think that counselors ought to have a good grasp of language and concepts. It seems that ideas are easier to fight when there are words to make them tangible. At least, this is true for me. I prefer a fight with something that is tangible, something that I know is real. Ideas, when they are only ideas, can make themselves so intangible that when they occur in someone they decide to ignore or suppress it. We live in a rational society that does not acknowledge the intangible. I'm not sure our society knows how to acknowledge something that they cannot define as a chemical problem or make an equation for.

We are all about the labels.

Love is a chemical. As is depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorder, addiction, romance is based on smell if you hadn't heard, happiness, and so on.

I wonder if they'll eventually make little pills you take to heal or have these... oh wait....

Have you ever seen Rob Bell speak? His 'Everything is Spiritual' video is great. That's what it comes down to. Our bodies are a reflection of what is spiritual, so yeah, it's only natural that they work accordingly. We were made as such. Yes, there are chemicals, and maybe we've figured out how to manipulate those to a degree, but that's not the root, it's only the reflection.

1 comment:

crickl's nest said...

Wow, the thoughts you've been thinking! I'd love to read that paper you wrote if you can show me. It makes me proud that you're so smart. ;)

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