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A hopeful approach for the future of international relations.

Redirect teen rebellion towards idealism and self improvement.

Read excerpts from unpublished book: Science, Religion and the Search for God —Bridging the Gap.

Poems of society, the human condition, and spiritual discovery.

Our student activities and curriculum materials instill an environmental, cultural, and global perspective, and integrate various academic disciplines.

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Archives 2002:
Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003:
Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life
Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004:
Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All

Archives 2005:
Vol. 4, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Standing up for Humanity
Unity in Diversity

Thought and Imagination
Imagination and Healing
Lessons of Katrina
Intelligent Design or Evolution

Archives 2006:
Vol. 5, Numbers 1-12

Read past articles including:
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-Violent Political Change
Sustainable Development
Legalizing Torture
Living Without an Enemy
"Fast Food" is really "Slow Food"


Featured Articles about Responsibility, the Future and Consciousness:

Hope for the Future
Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Conflict, Harmony and Integrity
Human Programming and Conflict
Non-violent Political Change
Living Without an Enemy
Protecting Children: Words and Deeds



Ode Magazine




November, 2007
Vol. 6, Number

This Month's Article

When Languages Disappear

“The extinction of languages is an opportunity for economic growth and world peace."

"The extinction of plant and animal species strikes a serious blow to an ecosystem, which must find a new balance. But a language plays no role in the greater whole."

Marco Visscher, Ode Magazine, November 2007, p. 31

If Marco Visscher spoke one of the languages threatened with extinction, he most likely would not have come to the conclusion that it “plays no role in the greater whole." Such a conclusion comes largely from a psychology shaped by a language designed for rational thought and material success in an industrialized world.

The languages of the West may not really be well suited for survival in spite of their economic and practical advantages. After all, globalization of the Western model of industrial growth, accompanied by its language, threatens the survival of the planet with pollution, over-consumption, cultural homogenization and war. It is indeed possible that language and cultural extinction will remove from human memory indigenous perspectives that could prevent spoiling the earth and killing our humanness.

When a beautiful colored songbird becomes extinct in a little visited rain forest few know or care, but the loss to the environment is irreplaceable. Like an orchestra missing an instrument section, the music of the forest becomes flatter. The loss of animal species decreases biodiversity, and is a loss for all senses — images, sounds, colors, behaviors, and adaptive memories. Like the caged bird in the coal mine, its death signals a loss of elements that support life. A life is an energy that is a part of the whole energy system of our earth.

Contrary to what Visscher states, language does play a role in the whole of human experience. Language, like the life of any species, is an expression of vital energy. As an energy of human expression it stimulates and stores neural pathways and psychological dimensions that are part of the collective human experience. One individual cannot have all experiences, nor can one have the full extent of human psychological expression. Languages are the archives of human relationships within a society, with an environment, and with the spiritual universe. When viewed as part of a give and take adaptive interaction with one's environment, language is like the synthesis of art and science — at once recording and at the same time creating. Languages thus mold unique psychologies and unique cultures, all parts of what is human. Lose a language and lose a way of viewing the world — lose a dimension of human perception, relationship and expression.

As a speaker of five languages I know that each is a different energy, a different music. I feel and think differently when I use a different language. I have different associations and different ways of relating to people and my environment. If life were a party, languages would be the dances — the waltz is very different than the cha-cha. Should humanity only dance to one tune?

One of the languages I speak is an African language growing out of an animist, agrarian, iron-age society. Through this language I can view the earth as it was viewed 3200 years ago. It has a simple way of expressing spiritual relationships. In its name for "fruit," for example, is comprised a whole ethic. "Fruit" to them is "tree child." When one takes the fruit, one must ask permission from the tree, its mother, and afterward give thanks. How different is that from modern culture where we buy bags of fruit, grown anywhere on earth, in our supermarkets without even a thought of all the human and natural forces that produced them? Built into the vocabulary of the primitive African language is the psychology of gratitude, which connects the human to the natural world.

If modern people had some of the psychology of connection to the living earth and to community inherent in many threatened indigenous languages, how could we pollute and destroy the earth? Would a change of language help us have the mentality for living a sustainable life with appreciation and harmony?

© 2007 Richard V. Sidy

Read Related Articles

Personal Ecology

Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival

Sustainable Development is Nature's Way

ODE MAGAZINE: What the West can learn from the rest


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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

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