saying I GET IT too quickly

If you love your own misinterpretations of another culture or person,
you will look at that other culture or person with some disdain.

You may say — “Not me.”

But consider an English-user who writes the word OPENEN and means “OPEN.”

Look below/underneath our misinterpreting  at our will to interpret or misinterpret, our will to understand. Do I really want to make the effort to understand the other culture or person?

The OPENEN user in this case is Caleb, age 6. Is he a pathetic, errant language user or will I understand him where he is in his development as a language user–an intelligent, developing language user? He is where he should be. But am I willing to understand?

You see Caleb drew me a picture of a rainbow last week and wrote OPENEN on it. He said, “It says open. I sounded it out.”

A few days later I was studying this picture which I had taped to my refrigerator door and I finally got it: If you “sound out” OPEN very slowly, his spelling makes complete sense! Do it slowly as if each of the letters is a word: O00 — Puhh — Ehhh — Nnnn

Thus, OPENEN is a brilliant written representation of “sounding out” of OPEN.

Kids make sense — it is we adults who have to understand them, sometimes interpret for ourselves. It’s a lot like pastoral care or crossing cultures. People do things that make sense to themselves. If we treat them as though THEY are ignorant, we are mistaken (and ignorant)!

The effort to understand is love.

Otherwise, I draw a red line of judgment through OPENEN. Or, I attribute nonsense to both the meaning choice and the pronunciation choice of a 4-year-old girl who says “in-him-ee-que” instead of  pronouncing, according to an adult law of English pronunciation: INIQUITY.

In education, we say, “Never blame the learner.” Eventually, if I treat you as nonsensical too often, you will hesitate to engage me in written or oral conversation of any sort, or any communication.

We are quick to blame others for our own sins and our ignorances.

Enter Other-culture worlds with great intention,
hoping to understand the meaning-making systems of the other culture.


About rbuddglobal

Towards Business As Mission becoming skilled culturally. Alongside West African colleagues who train workers to go cross-culturally. Learning, teaching, communicating, and being with others to make disciples for Jesus who welcomes all.
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