Rebekah Watson (Jamaica) on Learning Multiple Languages as a Path to Global Unity

July 5, 2012

“The most important thing is not to win but to take part!”
    -Pierre de Coubertin


Circles of blue, yellow, black, green, and red united, intertwined, and inseparable. For all the strife and tribulations in the world there is one moment every two years (for the winter and summer games) when the world comes together to celebrate the strength of the human mind and body and to nourish the soul. The word Olympics is universal; if you do not know the name you most certainly know the symbols—colored rings on a white background that stand for a chance at worldwide glory, fame, national pride, and recognition. All your blood, sweat, and tears have led to this one moment where the world salutes and recognizes you.
The Olympic motto—faster, higher, stronger—is one that the world should endeavor to follow, not just in sports but in all things. We should not look at it in a competitive manner, but should undertake it to heighten our cultural relations with each other, have a faster response time in coming to one another’s aid, and finally strengthen our common bond of humanity. In the end, no matter our race, creed, or color, we are the same.

The Jamaican Experience
In my home country, our national motto is “Out of Many, One People.” In the Caribbean our shared history of slavery makes this true of most of the islands found here; to say the same level of unity is shared, though, would be a falsity. Some Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago have historically tenuous race relations (in their case between the Indians and the blacks) that I, as a Jamaican, quite frankly find bizarre. This is because for the most part, whether black, Indian, Chinese, white, or an alien from outer space, we try to treat each other with respect, because we are all Jamaicans at the end of the day.

Jamaica most certainly has its problems; it is in no way, shape, or form a perfect country with perfect values, but we most certainly have our redeeming qualities. It is this spirit of oneness that I think is a quality that all nations should adopt; it is this oneness that the Olympics ultimately represents.

Achieving This
Education is our greatest ally in achieving healthy mutual respect for one another. One can never remain unchanged if one has stepped into another man’s shoes. It is for that reason I believe that from a very early age we should introduce our children to languages. In Western society especially, too little regard is given to cultures that do not speak English. There is a “can’t bother” mentality towards anyone who does not speak English, and when we have this mentality, it breeds a superiority complex in which respect for other cultures cannot truly grow. Learning a foreign language from an early age allows one to see that one is not alone in the world and opens the doors to the beauty of the culture of others.

The official language of the Olympics, truly summing up its ultimate values, is love and respect. Languages are the key!

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