Is the Word Understanding New to History?

An account of the word understanding throughout different eras, places, and from different men in history. An eye opening experience as to if we are truly hearing the word, understand for the first time in life while comparing it to the role of the peopl

The word understanding is in the Webster’s Dictionary as:

1 : a mental grasp : comprehension

2 a : the power of comprehending; especially : the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars b : the power to make experience intelligible by applying concepts and categories

3 a : friendly or harmonious relationship b : an agreement of opinion or feeling : adjustment of differences c : a mutual agreement not formally entered into but in some degree binding on each side

Understanding is written in a dictionary and can be found in just about any book, yet the concept evades some when dealing with politics, religion, love, and culture. Why it is this positive influence cannot be seen when it comes to what matters most in this world? This cannot be answered by me. Like Confucius said, “When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.”

A man who lived in 1100 B.C. wrote about understanding before the word entered into Webster’s dictionary. Marcus Aurelius was that man who said, “Keep constantly in mind in how many things you yourself have witnessed changes already. The universe is change, life is understanding.” These men lived and breathed the principles that escaped their mouths prior to what we know as the United States of America. Is one to say their words have no meaning, yet they did wondrous things in history? Or is it what is written in the Bible as, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” a better way of understanding what needs to be seen?

Can you find the answer of understanding in an anthropology study of the BamButi tribe? These little men and women cultivating a life in a rain forest, trying to find their way through spirits and not a biblical text? Chief Seattle, stated in the infamous letter written to President Pierce, an understanding of the world as he sees it through their eyes. The Holocaust survivor, Alexander Kimel stated, “I do believe, with all my heart, that God gave man the blessing and the curse. Man can select the curse of envy, hatred and prejudices, or the blessing of love, harmony and beauty. Despite the painful curses of the past, in the blessing of the Creator, I do believe. These men found their culture, religion, and lives uprooted and destroyed yet maintained an understanding that man may not know better. Why is it we are taught throughout history and even in present day society to be understanding of one another, yet there is much hatred forming from one word not being used?

Martin Luther King said, “I have a Dream”. His dream was no different from Alexander the Great. There was just much time between the two leaders to understand the similarity between them both. One wanted blacks and whites to come together and be equal yet the understanding to make it happen did not seem apparent to the people. Alexander the Great conquered millions of miles to have others be understanding of one another’s culture, religion, and of him.

History is taught to make us learn from it and never repeat the same mistake. From the wonderful workings of technology today people can finally have proof of life well over 12 thousand years ago. Beliefs within the Japanese and Chinese dynasties from within those eras; that invented pottery and paper show Gods for prostitution which is illegal in the USA. Are these cultures wrong or right? Are we the ones to decide? These questions should not truly have a yes or no answer. Maybe the word understanding can fill this void that seems to be lacking throughout the ages. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am right. One thing is a fact, many men in history from different cultures and time eras have pleaded with others to hear the word of understanding. Who are we to not listen?

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Julie Frey
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Matthew Emerson
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Posted on Aug 11, 2010