Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I belong to a papercrafting forum where a can of worms was opened. There were lovely things said. There were awful things said. There were some who tried to make peace, and some who refused to listen. All because of one word. Lines were drawn in the sand and accusations flew, all because some clarification was needed about a proposed project which dealt with winter holidays of all religions. The intent was inclusion and celebration, but it degenerated quickly.

Here's my pontification...

My parents were in charge of a church mission in Norway in the '90's. My dad spoke Norwegian pretty well, but my mom did not. They were required to travel around the entire country, speaking to congregations of all sizes. Most people in Norway under the age of 50 speak fluent English, but of course, all of the church services are in Norwegian. My dad would always give his talks in Norwegian without a problem. It would have been perfectly acceptable for my mom to speak English, but she chose a different route. She would write her talk in English, have my dad translate it to Norwegian, and she would proceed to butcher it mercilessly as best she could.

The people adored her.

They appreciated any and all efforts of another person (especially an American) trying to learn and speak a tongue that she really didn't need to use. She endeared herself to them immediately, and they trusted her and counted her as a friend.

Contrast that situation with any number of encounters here in America where someone is less than fluent with English (which is an AWFUL language to learn!). Generally that person does not endear him or herself to any large crowds. That person is most often met with impatience and indifference, and sometimes (shamefully) hostility. It is unfair.

My point is that I hope we can all be more like the Norwegians my mom encountered, who recognize that any effort to bridge the cultural gaps should be seen as a welcoming hand of friendship. My mom lost nothing in attempting to learn something about a different group of people. On the contrary, she gained the respect of hundreds of friends, who understood that her efforts were honest. When our efforts and intentions are honest and good, it shows. Let's be kind.

That is all.


  1. Loved the description of my efforts. Right on! Mom O

  2. Amen Cheryl!
    Happily, I no longer engage in such sites. I found I got too personally involved.
    I admire your spirit!