By: Emma Johnston
The other day my kids and I were driving together as we ran some errands, the music was playing over the radio and we were joyfully singing along. When the song finished my daughter loudly pronounced that she “wanted to be in the radio.” I laughed at the adorable idea of being ‘in’ the radio but decided this was a fun conversation to pursue.
“Would you sing in the radio?” I asked her, wondering if our recent rendition of ‘Fight Song’ had inspired her.
“No” she said in a tone that implied singing in the radio was ridiculous.
“Would you do talk shows?” I asked, now curious as to when she’d heard talk radio.
“No” she said again, this time sounding somewhat offended.
“Would you do commercials?” I asked.
Again – no.
“Well,” I questioned, somewhat at a loss, “what would you do?”
“I’d do tricks” she said proudly.
“Tricks?” I confirmed “Yes,” she said “and racing and jumps and speeding around barrels.”
I sat silently for a minute trying desperately to process how one would race around barrels in the Radio.
My son, who was with us and had listened to the entire exchange spoke up. “Mom!” he said exasperated. “She wants to be in the RODEO.”
I switched gears then and we spent the next twenty minutes talking about the Rodeo, but this conversation got me thinking.
There are so many times in life where we either think we know what we’re talking about (but don’t) or we trust that others know what they’re talking about (and they do not).
I just assumed my daughter knew what she was talking about. I thought she knew the difference between a Radio and a Rodeo. I assumed that the sentence she said to me was, in fact, what she had wanted and meant to say, but I was wrong. She had simply confused two words with one another and the entire meaning of the sentence had changed. I began to wonder how often this must happen to children. How often they must mix up simple words, explanations, understandings of feelings, and when they try to express them, are completely misunderstood.
It’s not just children either, I think this happens all the time with adults as well.
I don’t have a ton of opportunities to use the ancient Hebrew I studied in University. At most I use it once a year, but one thing I learned during my years of studying the very complicated language is that ancient Hebrew is very easy to mess up! A simple vowel change would make a word mean something entirely different. A simple line angled left or right could take a word and change its meaning completely. This tiny error, this tiny misconception or misinterpretation has been the bane of many an ancient Hebrew scholar’s existence. On many occasions this difficult language has been a significant issue when translating passages in the Christian and Jewish Bible. For hundreds of years the word ‘horn’ and the word ‘light’ were often mixed up. In early versions of the Bible Moses (remember Moses and the burning bush?) was described as having ‘horns coming from his head.’ Even famous artist and sculptor Michelangelo created a renowned statue of Moses with horns coming from his head! Imagine, horns – for hundreds of years people believed Moses had horns. It wasn’t until the 1940’s when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered that the word was corrected and we noted that Moses, in fact looked as if he had light coming from his head – light not horns!
These simple word mix ups, these simple mistakes in understanding, interpretation, or expression of thought can lead to so much inaccurate information.
Unfortunately, it not only happens in ancient Hebrew – we see it today in politics, a person may read some information and miss a few key words, by doing this, they misunderstand a political agenda or form judgements (both positive and negative) that are not based on fact.
I see this in education, a simple misunderstanding has my 10 year old coming home to tell me that sugar is as bad a drug as Heroine.
I see this in religious interpretation, I see this in advertising, I see this in parenting. I see it all the time.
I don’t really have a solution, but rather just take my daughter’s radio/rodeo mix up as a warning. A caution to make sure we truly understand the facts. To not just assume that because someone says something with authority that it becomes truth. A caution to check, even when we think the people should know what they are talking about, to question everything, read it for ourselves, explore, get true and right facts.
Without knowing what is true, without sifting through the mishmash of information that flows down to us, we may very well end up believing that Moses had horns and that my daughter plans to do barrel racing in the Radio.
Ask questions, check it out, be sure – we need a world that starts to actually know what they’re talking about.