HELLOJuly 16, 2023
DOES IT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY?July 30, 2023
…I want to understand them.”
Such an 84-year-old to my French teacher.
Let’s call this 84-year-old Luise in this story.
Luise explained why she was learning a new language at 84.
Luise has a new wife around her who doesn’t speak German yet. Luise wants to understand this woman and decided to learn French because this new woman can speak French as a second language.
How powerful and touching this motivation was for me. I thought about my upcoming lecture on the topic: “Building bridges instead of walls”.
I listen to my French teacher’s story with respect, joy and yet tears in my eyes.
That’s how easy it can be. Luise wants to understand others, so at 84 she learns a new language. She invests time and money to truly understand someone because her career is no longer at stake.
My teacher continues to talk about another 90-year-old who used to come to her regularly to learn French.
Am I also taking the first step to understand others, or is it enough if »newcomers« bend over backwards to learn our language?
Am I willing to understand others? Or do I say: “I will never understand you”. The problem with such statements: they are self-fulfilling.
However, if I really want to understand someone, as Luise shows us, then we will understand each other, even if the language is not yet “sufficient”.
I don’t know Luise, but she touches me deeply.
So how can I say at my age that French is too complicated?
I allow Luise to challenge me.
Not only do I question my attitude towards this language, which is new to me, but whether I really want to understand others, with or without a new language. To build bridges instead of walls.
Understanding is a verb, a DO word. Just like LOVE, as Stephen R. Covey already wrote in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
He was speaking to someone who was complaining that conjugal love has ended, that he and his wife no longer love each other.
Here is an excerpt, freely translated:
“My friend, love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of love, of the verb.
so love her serve her. […]. listen to her sympathize appreciate her.
confirm them. Are you ready to do that?”
I can also apply this to UNDERSTANDING. This memory works magically:
Understanding is a doing word, and THE UNDERSTANDING, the noun, is the result of “understanding”, the verb.
So I ask myself, am I willing, with whatever means I can, to understand other people, from other cultures or who are simply different from me, like Luise does?
Are you willing to understand others to build bridges?
And would you learn a new language at 84 or 90?