by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.

“Journalism is a public service and readers are best-served if I and the people I am writing about speak the same language.”

So wrote Jill Carroll, freelance reporter on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor, in a scholarship application shortly before her kidnapping in Iraq. The Washington Post reported.

When I began writing this column, the world still awaited the outcome of her ordeal. I’m happy the world has now received the good news of her release. But her words are continuing to give me pause today and I know they will do so in the future.

Many newspapers have written about Jill. And many shared more information about the newspaper she was writing for. Such as “The Christian Science Monitor was founded in 1908 by a woman, Mary Baker Eddy, who believed passionately in the power of prayer.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

The paper is owned by the church Mary Baker Eddy also founded. It is an international daily newspaper, winner of seven Pulitzer prizes, renowned for its balanced, in-depth news coverage of world events and issues.
The Christian Science Monitor

The Sun-Times also reported, “The paper has an implicitly spiritual mission, one that by all accounts Jill — a young woman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who moved to the Middle East a few years ago because she wanted to understand the region and humanize the lives of its inhabitants — believes in with all her heart: ‘to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.'”

Jill has been dedicated to learning Arabic since her arrival to the region and it has been reported that she can speak Arabic well enough to easily talk to the Iraqi people and interview Iraqi officials.

But I think perhaps her idea of speaking the same language may go beyond the limits of verbal communication although certainly important. Perhaps the secret to speaking the same language is rooted in the stated mission of The Christian Science Monitor — “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”

How do we speak so as not to injure?

Qualities seen in Jill’s writing come to mind. Honesty. Sincerity. Empathy. Thoughtfulness. To name only a few.

Jill will be writing for the world about the world again soon in the future. But perhaps her life and example will inspire and encourage us. Learn to speak to one another, our neighbors and strangers, our friends and foes, in such a way that enables us to live in peace and understanding each other.

Tolerate and accept there will be differences. Appreciate and honor varying viewpoints. Respect uniqueness of cultures. Believe there is one God regardless of many religious beliefs and practices. No one is greater than another in His eyes.

Her example is helping me share her passion. Her resolve. Her mercy. Her faith. Her hope.

For humanity’s sake, I’ll try to speak the same language to all I meet. A high goal? Maybe so. But if we all try, mankind will surely be blessed.