I go to Italy almost every year. Each time, I watch the elaborate hand gestures used in speech with amazement and amusement. I’ve seen a four year old gesticulating as if she was a fifty-year old woman behind a deli counter explaining with her hands why she will never be a switch hitter and always slices the salami from left to right rather than from right to left.
And while I like to think that I can read someone’s disbelief by the way they shake their hand at the heavens, most of us still believe that the eyes are the windows on the soul. But anyone who has attempted to learn another language discovers that language is a window and a mirror.
The word for “ourselves” in Italian is “ci.” And the word for “each other” in Italian is “ci.”
So when Italians talk about seeing themselves, they also mean seeing each other.
The sage Martin Buber’s philosophy is grounded on seeing others not as others, I-it, but as extensions of ourselves, I-thou.
Genocidal dictators dehumanize those who they destroy by regarding them as the “other.”
In AA groups they like to say, “Every time you point a finger at someone there are four fingers pointing back at you.”
You don’t have to learn Italian to learn the golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated. And even this is a golden truth only as long as we’re not prepared to treat others with the same disregard we have for ourselves.
Ci vediamo, in Italian is a very colloquial way of saying goodbye and means we will see each other.
In exact translation it also means that when we see each other we will see ourselves.
Let’s keep an eye out for others by keeping an eye on who we are. Ciao bella.