"The practice, discipline, art and wisdom that comes from translating texts from one language to another, I submit, has application for how we might understand the global events unfolding before us."
"During times like this, it is helpful to reach back in time to frame the current situation against historical events and ask if there are echoes in history that assist in our understanding."
Starting in high school and extending through graduate school, I spent a great deal of time translating dead languages. I spent many an hour pouring through the works of Socrates, Plato, Roman historians and poets, biblical texts and medieval works. The practice, discipline, art and wisdom that comes from translating texts from one language to another, I submit, has application for how we might understand the global events unfolding before us.
Context is something that every global citizen is attempting to grasp at the present moment. During times like this, it is helpful to reach back in time to frame the current situation against historical events and ask if there are echoes in history that assist in our understanding. In that look back, we of course also might ask what is uniquely new today that informs, widens and deepens our experience?
Perspective is our interpretation of the facts, the data set. Our filtering of history. The job of each of us as informed global citizens is not only to have a keen understanding of our past, but to digest and interpret that information. Perspective might then show up in the opinions or beliefs that we hold, and even in the professional, charitable or community actions we take.
A softer benefit that comes from translating texts is the art and science of asking questions, wondering, pondering how we can come to appreciate a perspective that is, on its face, a foreign concept to us. All of us almost daily are waking up to a dizzying array of information. We are overloaded with announcements and requests for action.
Might there be an opportunity to step above the firehose of facts and turn to wonder?
I wonder what new themes may emerge in six months from this crisis?
I wonder how systems, countries, peoples will interact and engage in new and different ways?
I wonder if others are trying to communicate with me, and finally may have my attention?
Even though translating texts is a solitary activity, the engaging part came when I conversed with others and shared my interpretations with others. This is where true and deep learning showed up. Conversation brings into one setting all elements of context, perspective and wonder.
Through dialogue, we open ourselves to the richness of the past, as well as the interpretive ideas of our friends and community members. In that conversation, we hope to take new course corrective steps that will improve the outcomes of other global citizens, reduce the risk of those held in vulnerability, or change our own behavior for the good of those who come after us.
Justin Stets is President of Carlson Capital Management, a Minnesota-based independent wealth management firm. The focus of the firm is directed to deliver expertise, care and experience to families/individuals looking for the integration of estate, tax, philanthropy, risk management and holistic financial planning. In his spare time, he produces “semi-quality” pieces of furniture out of his wood shop, and volunteers in places where people will have him, like the board of CCR. But mostly, he wonders how he is showing up everyday to be of service to his family, community and our world. The latter activity is a life-long pursuit.
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