Monday, August 14, 2006

WHY SHOULD WE LEARN ESPERANTO?

Why should we learn Esperanto?
Ronald J. Glossop, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA.

for the "Day of the School" at the Universal Congress of Esperanto, Gothenburg, Sweden, 29 July 2003

"Why should we learn Esperanto?" Of course, the answer is not the same for each person. Furthermore, there are different kinds of reasons. I want to discuss these various reasons under three headings. The three kinds of reasons are

1. the practical reasons,
2. the reasons related to expanding one’s mind, and
3. the moral reasons.

The first practical reason which I want to mention is to enjoy yourself. By means of Esperanto you can meet and become acquainted with many good-hearted, interesting, educated, clever, talented persons. You can travel to various countries throughout the world. You can participate in truly international parties. You can hear music and join in dancing the dances of many cultures. The whole planet can become your playground.

The second practical reason is to have like-minded friends (some of whom you have not even previously met) who will greet you and welcome you anywhere in the world. Sometimes they will even invite you to eat with them and stay in their homes in far-off lands. As Esperantists often say, "If you want to gain money, study English; but if you want to have friends, learn Esperanto." Undoubtedly it is a true saying that Esperantists have good friends everywhere. Beyond that, don’t forget that sometimes Esperantists even find a husband or a wife as a result of belonging to the Esperanto community.

The third practical reason for learning Esperanto, especially for children in English-speaking and Asian lands, is that Esperanto provides a good way of beginning the study of a language other than your native tongue. Various experiments show that pupils learn the rule-guided language Esperanto more rapidly than European national languages such as English and French. Furthermore, one can observe that pupils who first study Esperanto instead of more difficult languages are afterwards more eager to learn still other languages. They feel confident that they have the capability to do that. On the contrary, the study of more difficult languages like Latin and English often discourages pupils from trying to learn other languages.

Let me turn now to the second kind of reason for studying Esperanto, namely, to expand your mind in order to have a better understanding of the world. As Canadian Esperantist Dr. Stevens Norvell of Nova Scotia rightly notes, Esperanto is "a window to the world." When you are able to read and hear Esperanto, you can use it to become informed about other countries, other cultures, and other viewpoints through books, newspapers, magazines, sound-tapes, videotapes, radio and television broadcasts, web-sites, and web-messages. You can acquire information from a neutral point of view about what is happening throughout the whole world.

Furthermore, it is not only specific information which you can acquire. You will also gain a better general understanding of the world. You will no longer be so tied by language to one small region of the Earth and the viewpoint of that language or cultural community. You can become acquainted with the whole human community.

The third kind of reason to learn Esperanto is for me personally the most important. It is the moral reason, and it has two sides.

First, you can have a relationship with other persons throughout the world on the basis of equality and justice because you are using the world-wide neutral language Esperanto instead of your own national language. You will not require others to use your language, and they will not require you to use their language. Consequently there exists a feeling of equality and justice between you and others.

The second aspect of the moral kind of reason for learning Esperanto is the fact that, as an Esperantist, you are helping to create an evolving harmonious global community. Through Esperanto you become part of an important historical movement which promotes a sense of solidarity among all humans. Esperanto is not only a language. We Esperantists constitute a totally new kind of universal community based on the use of our global language. We together are now moving beyond the inter-nationalism of the twentieth century to the globalism of the twenty-first century. Nevertheless, at the same time we are helping to conserve the many national languages in the various parts of the world, thus preserving linguistic diversity.

Undoubtedly there are other reasons for learning Esperanto which I have not mentioned. The situations and motives of humans are very diverse. Neverthe-less I hope that the ideas which I have presented here will help you to persuade others that they should learn Esperanto and become members of our evolving global community.

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