This post is about nothing new. We all know, that by learning a new language we can expect to be much more, than “just” a speaker of another language, but knowing and experiencing are two very different things and I am understanding it fully only now, maybe I am just at the tip of that iceberg.
I had a conversation recently with a guy, who is going to the theater every month at least once. He said, he likes contemporary, local performances, so he understands all the allusions and references from the author and thinks, that a Shakespeare drama couldn’t tell him really much, since he is living at least 400 years after (and at least three borders away) it has been written. Well, I don’t discuss it, the obviously missing part in it, that Shakespeare didn’t only wrote an article, but remained an evergreen and it has its reasons, while most of the contemporary performances will really lose their meaning in over ten years, but however, it made me think about understanding, why people act in a special way, respond or discuss, how they do and how difficult it is to make real friends, who don’t have your cultural background. It is difficult.
In this very fashionable being “diverse” we should understand, that we are perceiving visual, audio and life scenes based on what we know and what we feel and although these things can be learned, they might fall so far away from us, if we don’t learn them or have the opportunity to live them, that we can look at films or people without really understanding, what they are trying to say really.
I happen to love the film Sliding doors recently, I am watching it over and over again in the last few weeks. Beside the fact, that I fell in love with John Hannah‘s accent, I think this same film wouldn’t have made any sense for me ten years ago or if I would have lived in Italy or Hungary all the time. The choice of Gwyneth Paltrow to open up her own agency after being fired is not so natural in those countries, like it is in the UK. Or the Romeo And Juliet, where Romeo decides to marry Juliet after only one day, they met. In the same manner, people could never understand – maybe or hopefully now no-one – how big the happiness could be in Goodbye Lenin, when they got their car after only six years of waiting, now you just grab your money, go to a dealer and buy whatever you want to.
Two Italian girls were visiting me some weeks ago and when they saw the police in the morning at the railway station, they didn’t feel secure, they started to run, because of fear from being stopped by the police (who obviously stopped them, since they started to run…)
Living and understanding our world is such a jungle, that employers and people, who think, that only, because you speak a foreign language, you are able to make business somewhere, are certainly wrong. There is a world to know about a foreign country, the history, why people act in a certain way, why they go to the pubs after work or are quite/loud in the tram.
You see, you just can’t judge anyone, until you haven’t lived his life, it is impossible, that people can behave in the same way in the same situation, without telling them, what is appropriate.
I could write books about things that work better in a country, and I shouldn’t choose one reference country, all of them make something better, than the others. Should our goal to be a mixed cultured generation or to maintain and keep our identity and nationalism far from everyone? Where did we start to give people the chance to know something strange? When we started to translate books or showed foreign films in the movie theater? Or when we opened our borders and let people come to work and pay taxes for our countries? Where will it end? Will there be one nation once or will it end, because all this knowledge is just not manageable for everyone? Should it be managed by everyone? Does the geographical distance not a brilliant way to allow a person to be completely ignorant about what and how things happen far away from your place? Are we forcing the “understanding everyone and everything”?
I have no answer, I just know, because I went through it already, that a completely new period will start for me in not even three weeks, when I get back to Italy, to a country, which I knew, before the UK and I have to learn again with patience and an open mind.