If there is one thing that I have learned during this course it is the danger of barriers. Whether it is the self imposed barrier of social class, the barrier of a strict border, or even the barrier between different languages people being cut off from their fellows very often can lead to problems. Most recently, the book Baho showed what can happen when someone is completely unable to communicate with a large group of angry suspicious people. Specifically, a young man was accused of rape after he ended up in an incredibly awkward situation with a local woman. The main issue was that the young man is mute and thus completely unable to explain himself, leaving the angry townsfolk to stew in anger as they tried to decide the best way to kill and humiliate the mute. The anger felt by the populace was in some ways justified, as there were a number of actual rapes that had occurred in and around the small African town. Unfortunately, their anger was horrifically misplaced, and the end result was a great deal of suffering for the mute. Sadly, suffering of this nature can not be easily prevented. After all, how was the muted man supposed to communicate? It’s not as if the average person understands sign language, let alone people living impoverished lives in a small African country.
In the end, there is no easy answer to this issue. Short of a global language, there will always be miscommunications and misunderstandings due to language barriers. For people who cannot talk at all, there will likely never be a proper solution, and we can only hope that situations like the one in Baho are extraordinarily rare and unusual.
As a brief aside, I apologize that this blog post is a day late. This travesty:
is the culprit, along with the power outage that came with it. Wildfires threatening to burn down your home (but not reaching it, thankfully) is a problem that can’t be solved with a world language.