Stories on the edge of familiarity

Grown-Ups Are No Longer Superheroes

“Because at that time it seemed to me that adults had a sort of almighty power, I kept telling myself that when I was grown up I would certainly destroy this evil.” ~Ludwik Zamenhof

Sometimes, you come across a quote that doesn’t just tug at your heartstrings. It takes up residence, becoming a player of their melody.

Ludwik Zamenhof, known for his creation of the language Esperanto, grew up witnessing strife between people who spoke different languages. Understandably, he hated it. Esperanto was what he hoped might be a solution. A universal second language to unite people across the divides between their first languages.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Esperanto. It looks and sounds really neat. But it has some grammatical illogicalities I can’t get past. It would allow me to communicate with people from a wide variety of countries and backgrounds. But I find its utopian dream to be distastefully simplistic.

And then I read that quote.

When we are children, it’s natural to think of our parents and their peers as superhuman. It’s not until we grow up ourselves that we realize the truth. That those grown up powers we thought we would gain were never there to begin with.

Much as I still have my problems with Esperanto, in that moment, I understood Zamenhof in a deep, emotional way. His dream had been shattered. There would be no magic solution to the evil he so longed to end. Yet, he worked to create what he believed could be a solution. And he published its first volume under the name Doktor Esperanto.

Dr. Hopeful One.

If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.

What quotes have caught you and never let you go?

2 Responses to Grown-Ups Are No Longer Superheroes

  1. Thea–I am so glad that you put links in your newsletter this time!

    Esperanto…Babel aside, and all that.

    High school latin helped me to communicate with a variety of romance-language speakers, back in the day. Once they got the idea that I wasn’t speaking Italian or Spanish, but something rather similar to Italian or Spanish, it didn’t take them long to get into a conversation. It wasn’t completely hitch-proof, but it worked rather well. Not with French speakers, and some of the folks I took for Spanish-speakers may have been speaking Portuguese, but in general, it worked better than you’d think.

    Quotes: “Impossibilities never occur.” And, uh, “Walk in the direction toward which you look.”

    “Impossibilities never occur.” If an event really, truly happened, then there is a mechanism behind it, and that mechanism can be understood. The other one, well, it’s easier to understand than to put into practice, sometimes.

    Or this. My oldest granddaughter, when she was very young, used to love to watch magicians on television. She tried her hardest to do the tricks they did, but of course, she was four years old, and didn’t have the magic cards and the mindset to fool people. She really was good at imitating the TV magicians’ behaviors. Eventually, though, the little face fell, and she had her first knock in the school of hard knocks. “Well,” she whispered, “I guess I can’t do magic, after all.”

    Like your Dr. Esperanto.

    • I generally do put the links in as a part of the P.S. Have they not been showing up properly? O.o

      That’s really neat about Latin, and it makes sense, because Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese all come from it. French, too, but I can understand it being weird and different. It’s gone through some rather unique sound changes. :P

      Yeah, I don’t think that Esperanto will unite the world and solve all its ills. What I do admire about Zamenhof, though, was how he held onto hope for a better future, and how he did the best he knew how to make it happen. I just love that he didn’t let the world around him to convince him to give up in trying to make the world a better place, and that he also managed to hold onto a sort of childlike innocence all the while. I may not agree with him on the solution to all our problems, but I do totally understand and appreciate where he was coming from, and so I wanted to celebrate what I find valuable about that. :)