We become human by talking to each other. We become human by responding to the urgent imperatives – imperatives that cost something. We become human by sharing these inspirations and motivations, that is by sharing a common history. We become human by standing together and finding shared solutions and arrangements in the material world. 

We grow by repeatedly going through these four phases or aggregate states. That is what keeps us alive. That is also what makes us bigger than we initially were. We constantly outgrow ourselves by meeting the challenges of our time.

That means first that we are not just individuals. We live in constant communication and the other person makes me think and speak, sort out and purify my initial thoughts. This exchange and this growth: that is me.

It also means that we do not choose who we are. It is in the exchange of communication that we find our destination. We are not in complete control. The voices that surround us awaken us to ourselves. In love we find our destination and love and destination together make us live.

Such voices we normally call values. We heard other people doing particular things and these make an impression and direct our lives. We embody these voices in commitment, loyalty, conscientiousness, discipline etc. etc., the values that we value and that make life valuable.

Within one culture as well as between cultures there are different ways of speech, different value sets. These established discourses respond to the needs of their time, that is the time in which they emerged. Sometimes they are outdated and new ones need to emerge. At other times we discover that outdated values and ways of speech need to come back to life and need to be embodied once more.

Intercultural communication is the dialogue between these value sets. In a certain sense it does not differ much from what we could call “intra-cultural” communication, because even in one separate culture such an internal dialogue between different values and their trade-offs and priorities is already going on. Intercultural management replicates this dialogue on a larger scale between a larger range of values.

Inasmuch as such ways of speaking and voices, values or whatever we call it, are not of our own making and have some authority over us, and call for respect, we are religious. The Spirit of religion is the spirit of language, that is the spirit of the different ways of speech that call upon us.

In social intercourse, in family life, but also in corporate life, in labor and networking and whatever we do etc. we realize this process of listening to the right priorities and embodying these priorities in our doings and in our speech. In this way the process of life, love and spirit moves through us and makes us move.

This is not just a matter of realizing one’s personal biography. It is also a matter of realizing our common destination, realizing peace, justice and material well-being. In our language exchange we create the institutions that support liberty, peace and justice. The material world does not merely consist of matter (that should not matter), but it is also the realization of our common destination.