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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Foreign Language (12/09/10)

TITLE: Communication Alienation
By Philip Barrington


It was with amazement when I had left school to find myself in an office filling out a form that had asked if I was born in this country. I remember being offended by this question and I asked the person serving me, “where do you think I was born?”

As time went on I quoted sayings to impress others. One of those sayings was that when a person is born, paperwork is needed. All through life paperwork is needed and when we die paperwork will be needed. Trying to gather sayings and ideas in my head, my world had opened up with confusion of how I should live and survive in society.

Travelling in the bus to and from work became annoying when a group of people would have a loud conversation in their own language. I started thinking about my own country and if they were going to live in our country they should have been able to speak English.

I had much respect for some of the foreigners, who had come to our country and understood it was needed to speak English to survive within the workplace and the community. But, I had realized too, that some jobs were not appropriate for the task at hand for those that were learning English, especially speaking over an intercom. Catching a train became an interesting experience when the announcement came over the intercom addressing the next station ahead. At first I thought it was in another language; I would turn to people and ask what they said as I had already listened intently to them for some time. I had realized the person speaking on the intercom was running the last syllable of a word into the first syllable of the next one. Falsely, I thought to myself that I had my own language all wrong.

Becoming paranoid about communicating, I continued on through life trying to understand others and they would attempt to understand me. I would also strive to understand those that didn’t speak English too well. It became difficult when dealing with problems because what I was saying did not make sense to others. It came apparent that people were getting offended or hurt and this became a problem in getting my point across, especially when socializing. I became so aware of it that thinking before I spoke and using different ways to say things became an important issue for me.

Experiencing friendships with people was hard for me. It wasn’t understood by others how I was able to experience a special bond with a minority group. One of my best friends who lived in our home would communicate to me when he was hungry. Also, when I got out of the shower he asked for attention. He loved the sun so much that going in and out of the house became a regular adventure for him, but he didn’t like the rain. One day when it was raining heavily he brought me over to the window to show me something which was a concern to him. He looked at me and meowed for me to turn the water off. I understood him quite well. Although this may be a peculiar paragraph to insert here, it is quite obvious, I understood my cat more than what I could understand a human.

During a lecture that I attended, someone asked which language we would speak in heaven. Quickly the answer came back “English.” Whatever language it will be, I hope it is all cleared up by then so we can understand each other. Sometimes I think to myself that God is practicing understanding us when we talk to Him. In my prayers I often say, “well God, I can’t always say what I mean but you know what is on my heart,” and the heart God does know and will understand.

I have come to realize that no matter how we talk or write, we are going to have in-house talk that nobody else understands. Sometimes when we speak, hear or write, we may think we are alone, but we must realize that there is a friend that understands. So, if we don’t understand someone, or they have trouble understanding us, it is very likely we can ask God to convey to them what we mean and for us to hear what we are meant to hear. You know what I mean!

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This article has been read 423 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 12/20/10
We definitely have to keep working to overcome the effects of sin at the Tower of Babel that caused God to give us all different ways of speaking, even within the same language, sometimes! I would have loved to see you show us some of the specific examples with dialogue written out for the situations you discribed.
Cheryl Harrison12/21/10
Communication can be difficult at times and perception of communication can be even worse. I grinned at the kitty cat part of your story. I have a cat who only wants to drink out of the faucet, so he is effective at telling me when to turn the water "on". Keep writing!
Henry Clemmons12/21/10
I love this theme that no matter the noise, God understands. I enjoyed your entry.
Catrina Bradley 12/21/10
I so understand what you're saying here. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to understand someone and vice-versa. The message that God can be our "translator" is awesome! I love your title, too!
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/22/10
I particularly like your conclusion--such a great message.