30 December 2009

Dichotomy of Language

As a people, we enjoy classification. Look at our music: alternative, rock, hip-hop, r&b, reggae, classical, pop, etc. Each of those can then be broken down into sub-genres like hard rock, classic rock, new rock & pop rock.

Unlike music, other areas of life that are, in fact, more complicated than a string of notes and chords are classified much more succinctly.

We talk a lot about black and white but very little about the infinite shades of grey in between.

Your gender is male or female; if you have aspects of both, you are a girlie man or a tomboy.

The news speaks much of the rich and the poor, democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives.

Why do we talk this way? Authors of The Story of English Robert McCrum, William Cran & Robert MacNeil write, 'Of all the world's languages (which now number some 2,700), it is arguably the richest in vocabulary.' They list the number of words in English as over one million. (This is unique words, not counting various verb tenses or word forms.) Within this number are over half a million technical and scientific terms, which leaves 500,000 words that aren't specialized. (Neither do they count words of slang, having gathered their number from the Oxford English Dictionary, which does not catalogue the newest slang.)

We have the words. There is no need to speak in dichotomy, yet we are trapped by the language that surrounds us.

The real problem with this dichotomy is not that it limits how effectively we communicate, but how it creates the mentality that it is Us versus Them. 'If i am a male, then i must not display any feminine traits or i will be seen as less than a man and a traitor to all men.'

Not everything is a war and can be described as Us vs. Them. When we focus so much on what we belong to and what other people don't, or what makes each of us different from the people around us, we lose something. We lose the ability to interact with them fairly, without any prejudice.

I think this is especially damaging in the Church. What Paul describes as the Body of Christ should display unity and be less concerned with whether or not each individual subscribes to a certain and specific viewpoint.

Look how we describe ourselves. We are the Saved; the world is Lost.

Saved vs. Lost (The ultimate brawl will happen Sunday night on Pay Per View! Tune in or be left in the dark!)

When did our battle become with the people we are attempting to show the Light?

No comments:

Post a Comment