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Written Language, Oral Language, and Their Liberation

The following is Part III of this article. You can read Part I on pages 30 to 32 of the July 2016 Present Time and Part II on pages 75 to 78 of the October 2016 Present Time. You can also read the entire article—in Basque, English, or Spanish—on the RC website here


The Past

My people are Indigenous people. Our language is one of the oldest in the world. When I use my language instead of English, people often tell me that I look like another person. I’ve observed something similar many times at workshops. I have done a demonstration with someone who is speaking in her Indigenous language, and the whole Community has had to discharge because they are seeing this person in a new and totally different way because she is functioning in her language of origin instead of in the language that assimilation has forced her to use. These kinds of demonstrations have given a special power to the client. They have put her more in the center of the Community and broadened the awareness of the members of the Community toward her. They have revealed a piece of information that was missing in the Community: that all the pieces of the puzzle are essential for this RC project to move forward.

My suspicion is that the older a language is, the more it reflects the eras preceding the organized oppressions, brutal exploitation of certain groups, and wars caused by hierarchical societies. For example, during my travels I’ve met people who cannot interpret the words “oppression” or “lie” into their native language, because their Indigenous language does not have terms for them. That has made me think.

We have all come from ancient Indigenous cultures and from groups that used Indigenous languages. Over time, oppressive societies developed based on avarice, slavery, and other exploitation, and they tried to destroy or make disappear the non-oppressor, non-invader Indigenous peoples and cultures that had existed before. There is a reason for this: it is easier to manipulate people if they can’t maintain a connection with their own people, culture, language, and land. A plant without roots is weak, has no depth, lives a short life. This is how the system wants us. I often encourage people to research their roots—their culture and language of origin—because it is liberating and empowering.

The Now

Some historians estimate that ninety-seven percent of humanity’s time on earth has been spent in wars. And humans have probably spent the remaining three percent rebuilding and recovering from war. The RC relationship, like any other relationship, can only exist in the present, not in the past or the future. Taking into account the wars and other violence that humans have experienced, while also being separated from the discharge process, it is no surprise that human beings nowadays have serious difficulties staying in the present and clearly seeing reality.

If we don’t discharge and re-evaluate, we can end up converting the past into a set of frozen needs and false expectations that we can easily project onto the future. We frequently use the future as an escape from the present, because distresses can be restimulated at any moment and we don’t always have a handy opportunity to discharge. We also escape by doing, producing, consuming, making noise. When we escape like this, it is difficult to establish a connection, because that can only happen in the present.

When I practice linguistic liberation and use the strategies described throughout this article to achieve a connection with my Co-Counselor, I find myself discharging the difficulties I have in staying present in the moment. This has led me to think that our only possibility of being fully what we are and understanding benign reality is in the present.

In my opinion, we human beings created languages for these purposes: to communicate well among ourselves in the present, to be conscious together of the true reality, to share an accurate picture of the past and of the future, and to design together a common present that is re-emergent.

To be present in the moment requires being aware of the oppressions surrounding us, as well as the oppressions we produce, and offering proposals for moving toward a liberating situation. In that sense, I will conclude with a small but efficient proposal. I will refer to it as Proposal IV. [Proposals I, II, and III are in Parts I and II of this article.]

Proposal IV

When I travel to an RC activity with people who do not know my language, I have to be the interpreter. I could be interpreting during the whole trip and arrive at the workshop somewhat tired. Then at the workshop I have to keep interpreting. In these cases I usually suggest that we organise the trip from a liberation point of view. After twenty to thirty minutes, I ask people for one or two minutes of their attention to discharge whatever may have come up for me from having to speak their language non-stop. People are generally not aware of the effort required to speak non-stop for a whole day a language that is not one’s own and that one had to learn. For both them and me, this has been an inspiring exercise of liberation and rapprochement.

I usually organize the exercise from the point of view of linguistic liberation. It can also be done from many other liberation points of view, by making space and time for people who suffer from other oppressions, such as classism, sexism, racism, or young people’s oppression. During non-structured shared RC moments, we can stop for a bit (perhaps every hour?), look at each other, and offer a minute of attention to the person who is in a more oppressed situation, so that she can tell us how things are going for her. This will force us to be in the present moment and will keep our relationships updated and directed toward liberation.

To conclude, I have one question for you:

What do you think of these four proposals?

Thank you for your time.

With love,

Xabi Odriozola Ezeitza

International Commonality Reference Person for Languages and Interpreting

The village of Marieta Larrintzar, Araba, Basque Country Translated from Basque to Spanish by Juan Gabriel Urriategi Translated from Spanish to English by Stéphan Picard. Revised in Spanish and English by Goizalde Galartza

(Present Time 186, January 2017)

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00