Bliss Language

End War with a new language: a previous experiment

As I work on my experiments to make the world a better place I am intrigued by past attempts. Today I was pleased to hear a Radio Lab broadcast of the story of Charles Bliss.

“Bliss believed that war was often caused by the misuse of language, and he believed it could be overcome if we could create a way to communicate the truth without the trickery of words.”

Bliss Language

a piece of stained glass art by Shirley McNaughton, called “Communication.” It’s composed of 10 Bliss symbols

Mr. Bliss watched how the Nazis twisted language while he was in a concentration camp. He decided to create a language using symbols so the meaning could not be manipulated. It never caught on but it was used successfully in helping kids that could not communicate regularly due to cerebral palsy. The children could use the symbols as a path to learn to read and write.

Bliss was at first elated to see his language used, but he began to be frustrated as the symbols were added to and modified to better meet the needs of the children using it. His language was being changed from his perfect design to a specific purpose losing its potential to stop war. He eventually sued the charity using his symbols limiting their ability to help sick children.

Lessons to remember for our experiments

Look to the Past Also

In finding this story I was reminded that we should look at the past before re-inventing the wheel. When we get an idea we should see what other similar ideas have been tried in the past. Let’s get researching!

We Will Never Reach Our Potential

Bliss seemed to be satisfied with the good that his project provided because he wanted so much more. We can often see a potential that will never be realized. We should be pleased with the results that do appear. The end may not be our vision but it is usually good.

Dream Big and Good Things May Happen

Even if our ideas do not bring about all we hope for there is usually an unexpected benefit that we can realize. The bigger we dream the more possibility there is for something unexpectedly good to come about.

Think it Through

I believe in the end symbols can be perverted the same way words can be. The symbol of the Nazi party the swastika meant “being with higher self” or “to be good” and was a good luck symbol. Now a significant number of people see it as a symbol of evil.

Appreciate the effort of others

Initially Mr. Bliss felt unappreciated for this time he spent trying to make the world a better place. He seemed elated to find his work used. I think in the end he did not feel adequately appreciated. I thank Charles Bliss for his courage and passion to do something so noble.