If I understood you

and you understood me

we could speak with complete familiarity

but since I just met you

and you hardly know me

we only speak with incongruity.

How pleasant and natural it would be

if at once we could see

each other plainly.

But I don’t know you and you don’t know me

so we have no real clarity.


I wrote that. It came to me yesterday in ASL class because I had been thinking about how we speak to each other.

Maybe this isn’t your experience, but I’ve noticed that people who know each other really well, they can be more honest.

I say things to mys sisters I would never say to a friend. Why? Because my sisters will know what I mean.

I won’t bother to be polite to siblings all the time, since I know they won’t get super offended. But I will be polite to a stranger or a classmate because they don’t know me well enough to know when I’m not serious.

I actually sometimes get taken seriously when I’m kidding and I think it was obvious that I was kidding. I know that’s not unique to me, doesn’t it bug you when it happens?

I might tell my sister to shut up and know she won’t be that bothered by it, but I wouldn’t say that to someone else unless I had the intention of making them feel I was angry.

C. S. Lewis observed in The Four Loves that when people have affection for each other, they can say offensive things and not offend. And that the deeper the affection, the better they will know what times to say such things.

Which is not to say we can just insult each other, there’s a time for it and a time when it will be hurtful. If someone in your family is pouring out their soul or crying their eyes out, that is not the time. Or if they’re angry and venting to you.

Usually it’s when we’re in a good mood that we can poke fun at each other and feel  closer and not father apart.

Why are we so polite to strangers? People often theorize that we are scared of what they will think.

But I submit to you that not everyone is scared. at least not of being disliked. Often when someone does dislike us, we feel that they have misunderstood who we are.

“He/she thinks I’m just a—- but I’m not.” Does that kind of talk sound familiar? It does to me.

The reason we don’t speak our mind to strangers is often simply that we know they will not understand us. They don’t know us. And they have their assumptions about people with our opinions that only knowing us better would change. They won’t want to know us better if we scare them off.

The are times when that doesn’t matter and we need to speak our mind regardless. But those are fewer times than when we need to understand each other.

The better you know me, the better you understand me, the better we can communicate. Lack of communication equals lack of understanding. Even if you hate someone, you can still understand them, provided you know  them. You’ve seen movies where the hero and villain understand each other perfectly, that’s why they are at odds.

I don’t me tat we understand English, or whatever our language is. I mean that we have a knowledge of a person’s character, quirks, and feelings about things. That is what tells us what they mean.

This kind of understanding can happen very quickly between some people, especially if they are alike in opinion and character. Others it can take twenty year,s or it may never happen. Some folks lack the ability or the desire to understand each other.

I think that we wish it were different. That we could speak our mind to strangers as easily as to our closest family or friends. In a perfect world we feel everyone would be able to communicate like that. It would be great.

But we need to beware the Tower of Babel. God in His wisdom perhaps has made it hard work to understand each other. A lot of people see it as the worst part of humanity that we have so much conflict. you might want to question that person’s motive.

Conflict is what keeps us pushing forward and it keeps us from corrupting each other completely. Where there is good, there will be conflict as long as men choose to do evil. You better hope so anyway. The most dead-in-soul people never argue with each other, they just sin. We don’t want that.

IF you understand the people around you perfectly, you are either dead inside, or a saint. Because only people who have extreme wisdom, or else just don’t care, are without conflict.

I hope to be saintly, bu I fully expect to have conflict on the way. Because I will meet with the unsaintly. And I won’t always be good either.

So while it would be nice to have total familiarity with each other, perhaps it is for the best that it is hard work. I look forward to the day when evil will not be a thing, and we will all be on the same page.

Until next time–Natasha.


3 thoughts on “Familiarity.

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