Lee's Lexicon September 17, 2021

Hello Broadway!


There are lots of fun words in existence, in lots of languages around the world, and languages are a passion of mine, so I thought I'd take my section of the weekly newsletter to share some of these words.


This week I thought I'd talk about a Finnish word that's long been one of my favorites - Finnish was the language that started my interest in linguistics in high school, so it seems like an appropriate place to begin.


Sisu is a word that is generally held to be untranslatable into English (though I'd argue that's not the case, with any such word; it simply requires more words to translate). It's a concept that's very much a part of Finnish national identity and ideals. It's...a combination of determination, stubbornness, bravery, stamina, and maybe a little bit of stupidity.


It's the kind of courage that drives someone to enter a fight that they know they cannot win - but know that they must fight regardless. It's the kind of courage that drives social justice, in a world where it often seems futile; it's the courage that drives continuing to live as Christ calls us to, in a world where it often seems impossible. It's the courage that lets us reach our limits, physical or mental, and then transcend them. It's having the stamina to keep fighting after the courage has gone, until we can be brave again, and it's the determination to get up and keep going when we've fallen and failed.


Of course, we know that the fights we have today will eventually be won; but we also know that it will not be in our lifetimes, and that there will always be other fights, other injustices to address. That is where we need to have the quality of sisu, where we need to be stubbornly and, sometimes, yes, stupidly brave and determined to make a positive change, to love radically and unconditionally, even in the face of the darkness of the world, even in the face of the huge difficulty of the task.

 

Lee M. Rollins

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