What do knitting charts, Japanese, the King James Bible, computers, and physics have in common?
Please indulge me. I have been thinking about this so much. I am a liberal, socialist, atheist. When I was in school, science and math were my favorite subjects. But I was raised as an evangelical Christian, and followed that path into my twenties by choice. Coming back to my love of science and reading popular science books was a big part of my deconversion process. I can understand King James Bible and science.
I worked as a technical writer for Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu. My job was to take engineeer speak and translate it into regular language that the general public could understand. I also worked for a medical technology company and I had to translate programmer-speak into words that doctors and nurses could understand. I can understand code and clinical language.
I write and teach knitting now. My biggest job as a knitting teacher has been to take complicated techniques, coded knitting charts, and antique knitting patterns and explain them in a way new knitters can understand. I also teach English-speakers how to follow Japanese knitting patterns and I translate knitting instructions from German and Lithuanian to English. I can understand knitting and English.
I think this point in time is what I was born for. But I’m only human and sometimes I don’t want to talk to anti-science, anti-women, anti-immigrant, anti-everything-I-believe-in people. I want to preach to the choir. That is why I love knitting. I think of knitters as my “tribe” even if we don’t share faith, education, class, and so forth. I can envision being a facilitator, a translator, an interpreter in difficult discussions when working with groups of knitters.
Now, how do we make this happen? We must begin to understand each other in America again. That doesn’t mean that, as liberals, we need to give up on our values. I actually believe that in almost every case, 95% of Americans share liberal values when they are explained to them in words they understand. But right now, liberals and conservatives are not speaking the same language. We have our own buzzwords, rhetoric, jargon, dog whistles. We need to stop regurgitating what we hear and start explaining things in our own words.
Too much is getting lost in translation.