Translation

Here we become aware of another side of human speech: Humans are able to learn how to listen and to speak, even how to read and to write in foreign languages, in short how to communicate with one another in foreign tongues. We speak about "trans-lation," literally "to carry over, to pass over, to cross, to bridge." This ability proves that foreign languages do not suspend the unity of human race. In other words: Different languages do not constitute different species of animals. Neither language nor color nor race nor gender nor religion abolishes the unity of being human. It rather belongs to our being human that beyond the features of finitude - place and time, language, race and culture, and also religion - a human being by his nature is open to other things and other persons, for more and for anything new. He is even filled with desire for the boundless and the infinite. All this happens as soon as someone leaves his own place and moves to the place of someone else. The ability of changing places is also one reason that humans after passing through numerous places wish to reach one place from where they - maybe with the eyes of God - are able to survey everything.

A first chance, by which the desire for more can be fulfilled, is given with what we call "translation." In fact, the term as we daily use it, seems to be a technical term. As already indicated, it implies more than that. Intellectually and so with whole their being, in all the fini-tude of their ego, humans are given the possibility to move - as it were crossing a river - to the shore of others and thus to pass over to the other shore. In Buddhism the idea got a high impact in the image of Little and Great Vehicle. That a passing-over is not easy and needs pains and efforts is well-known to anyone who tries to learn a new language.

Whoever knows something about foreign languages and has not only the facility to read, but to speak, also knows about the limitations of translations. Not everything can be translated adequately; consequently not everything is fully comprehensible. Who intends the latter, has to learn - as mentioned before - to put oneself in the viewpoint of the other and to accept it and to perceive things from different perspectives. By so doing generally one's own point of view is relativized. Linguistic formulations will be noticed in their deficiencies, their need for supplement or even replacement. In the era of pluralism the danger arises that at the end everything is basically relativized, and apparently nothing remains an absolute and universal value.

Although it gets more and more difficult to determine the heart of the matter or the center of everything, for the sake of the unity of human race a central point which is valid for all people and which everybody has to respect, is needed by all means. The question is whether this point can still be expressed or ultimately escapes all linguistic expressions so that it can be asserted only in merely negative terms, that is to say, in assertions which mark almost an empty space which cannot be filled by human efforts.1 Or are at the end those people right, as we find them in many religions and also among the believers in Jesus Christ, who claim that humans from their side are not enabled to say what the core of the matter is, but that they are convinced that the heart or the center of everything is able to communicate itself in a word? Jews, Christians and Moslems and other believers deduce their language faculties from the creator of the universe; they believe that he is not a silent divinity, but a speaking God. They believe: Because God speaks in words, he is the Word as such and enables humans to reply. From word and response grows what we call "responsibility," which is more distinctly expressed in the sequence of German terms

Wort —> Ant-wort -> Ver-ant-wort-ung-> Ver-ant-wort-lichkeit.

Responsibility is an attitude growing from our ability to respond to words spoken by someone else. And the sequence of word and response and the ability of exchanging words is one of the greatest gifts given to us. Unfortunately the basic context of the western term "responsibility" has fallen more and more into oblivion.

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