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What's the point?

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7.9

There is a debate quietly bubbling away behind the scenes around whether dying languages deserve reviving, or whether they should be allowed to slip away, as natural detritus of the evolutionary process. Yet, in many cases the question is complicated by a further issue - justice - because the plight of many of these languages is the result of persecution. When one people-group wants to assert itself against another, it has an arsenal of weapons at its disposal, among them the destruction of the language and culture which both identifies and invigorates the target people-group.

Examples abound all over the world, right up to our own doorstep. The subjugation of the Gaels of Scotland and indeed of Ireland was, for generations, hidden behind an education system which airbrushed what was happening out of the national consciousness. Recently the tide has turned and frantic efforts are being made to reverse centuries of oppression and decline. But is it feasible, is it worthwhile? Or should that justice issue over-ride such concerns making it imperative that we do whatever we can, whatever is necessary, to right the wrongs of the past - to secure a better, fairer future for all?

It is perhaps too late for many (although, in some cases including in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, efforts are being made to revive the languages which have already died, in order to boost the cultural revival which remains alive and kicking!) yet others are hanging on and may yet be saved. We have come to appreciate biological diversity, which is also in a fight for survival, so why not cultural/ linguistic diversity? Just as the world would be poorer for lack of the weird and wonderful array of creatures which adorn its surface, John's vision in Revelation suggests that heaven is enriched by the variety of humans expressing devotion to God in glorious diversity too...



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