Language (HLD 37)

28 April 2020

Specifically, how to talk non-belief-specific language.

I’ve recently had instances where I’ve had to think about how to convey what I want to say, in a way that doesn’t impinge on the recipients personal belief system.

For instance… “Peace be with you” is a sentiment you can express to everyone, although it does have a Christianity based feel to it. But why shouldn’t we wish peace for others? Is it the way it’s said? You could get a bit more wordy with more modern language and offer “I wish for peace to be present in your life”. Bit judgemental. They might be peaceful as heck already. Or you go 60’s hippie language with simply, “Peace, dude”….

And there are issues in how to talk with people suffering bereavement. Christians have it relatively easy with their belief that the person has a further calling after death, that the deceased person is now at peace in heaven, “called home”, “gone to glory” etc. Some non Christians also seem to have a belief that the deceased person has now gone to join other previously deceased relatives and friends, but without the specifics of where and how. I think a generic sentiment that the soul of the deceased lives on, whether in a heavenly realm or simply in the hearts of those who loved them, is a fundamental way we all deal with death.

Talking to people facing or undergoing trauma in their lives often calls for more than “I’m thinking of you”, and, dare I say it at the risk of being struck by lightning, “I’m praying for you”.

But what’s the line where belief-speak can transcend someone’s firmly held non-belief-speak? (And yes, non Christian friends, I can hear you all telling me that you do have beliefs, just not my beliefs. Understood ✔️ )

I’d just love to work out how to say to someone “Peace, Hope, Joy and Love be with you”, without sounding like I will be taking up the collection after the next song.

But just in case, there will be a retiring offering as you leave…

Peace, dudes.

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