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Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides. — Rita Mae Brown, author and activist

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation. — Angela Carter, 20th-century British author

IN TODAY'S SESSION...

If we are to achieve the beloved community that liberal religion seeks to create, we must maintain a discipline of deep listening. This session guides participants to understand their responsibility to be both self-aware of their communications and aware of how others might receive them. The activities and stories in this session demonstrate that we cannot make assumptions about what people mean to say, nor can we assume others will automatically understand us. Making the effort to communicate and understand one another is both a practical and spiritual task. The group discussed communication approaches to make a newcomer to our congregation feel welcome and learned to say "welcome" in at least one language other than English.

EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Talk about...

Exposure to different languages can help children understand that language is only a representation of human experience, one that varies widely from culture to culture and from person to person. Where do your family members encounter written or spoken languages other than English? Do different members of your family "speak" different body languages and does that sometimes cause them to misunderstand one another?

EXTEND THE TOPIC. Try...

A FAMILY ADVENTURE

Family members can join in the children's Faith in Action project and commit to doing one of the following activities before Windows and Mirrors meets next:

  • Say "welcome" to someone in another language.
  • Watch a foreign language TV channel.
  • Observe others talking and notice the gestures they use and what they mean.

A FAMILY GAME

Investigate body language communication patterns in your family. Encourage your child and other family members to pay attention during your conversations to how many times, and when, their listener(s) smiled or nodded their heads. Make a list of body language affirmations that are universally understood—at least in your family.

A FAMILY RITUAL

For a week, challenge family members to start each day by greeting one another with "Good morning" in a different language.

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For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.