language and intentions

13 Sep

Yesterday evening my sis and I were at the grocery store. She was getting something out of the freezer case and I was waiting for her, far enough away that it might not have been obvious that we were there together. This guy walks by and says ‘hey there’ to my sis. I said, ‘she can’ hear you’ he said ‘are you serious?’ At this point my big sister claws may have shown themselves a little, because I said (which just a smidge or two of attitude) ‘I wouldn’t kid about something like that.’

By this point Mary Ellen is wondering what is up so I start telling her (in sign of course) and he’s like do you know this sign? holding up the I love you sign. The conversation went on from there, but this is where I am going to jump off and start the preachin’.

Where does some random guy decide it’s a good idea to sign I love you to my sister in the grocery store? If we were two hearing chicks he wouldn’t have been saying I love you as a conversation starter. Especially since I think his original intention of saying something to my sis might not have been as wholesome and pure as the Sunday school class where he probably learned the I love you sign.

WHY is it ok to people, this guy wasn’t the first, to sign I love you when they realize that Mary Ellen is deaf? People who wouldn’t dare say that in the same setting to a hearing person.

I can hear you dear reader, hollaring in the back of my mind, but what about namaste? We believe in a a world of unconditional love. Don’t you want to say I love you to everyone you meet?

Of course I do, but I also understand the cultural environment of the world we live in. It’s an interesting balance we all walk, between being wary of that which might harm us and living free. We all take our experiences and come up with our own personal mix. It’s like Charles Fillmore said about purchasing insurance, go ahead if it helps you sleep at night.

So what is pushing my buttons about this whole thing? We were in the health section of Hy-vee, so there was no physical threat, the guy didn’t have a ‘scary’ energy, clueless sure, pushy to talk with my sis no question.

Really it isn’t an issue of the word but of the language.

When one travels to a land with a primary language other than your own, usually you try to learn the basics: hello, goodbye, please, thank you, water, where’s the bathroom, etc. When the Spanish retreat was here at Unity Village last week, I learned a couple new words that would make my interacting with our guests easier.

I didn’t start substituting I love you for all the other words I didn’t know, why, because it doesn’t make sense. Not to mention that it would seem weird and unauthentic to the receiver. Which is why the grocery store incedent annoys me.

It’s that the WHY is as important, probably more so, as the WHAT. The look of ‘huh?’ on my sister’s face couldn’t have been more intense if he’d said ‘I want a monkey.’

When we go and give free hugs, while some folks may be confused by the whole concept, there isn’t a question of the sincerity, the language matches what is being said.

So there it is, I think I worked it out. It’s about the words matching intention. And of course it’s about my big sis protection of my sis, but that’s a story for another day.

Peace and love

PS I know I pretty much just worked out my thoughts here, but I’m guessing it might give you food for thought 🙂


2 Responses to “language and intentions”

  1. Elise Cowan September 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm #


  2. ogun September 15, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    Poor dude thought he was being clever showing off the one sign he knew…”Look at me! I’m not totally clueless and insensitive!” Sadly it appears he communicated just as much.

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