Esperanto
Author: David Poulson


La Interna Ideo

Author: David Poulson
Published on: March 31, 2000

How well did Lidia Zamenhof know the father who died when she was only 12? How well did she know his ideas and literary works? How much did she absorb at second-hand from her mother, brother and sister after her father's death? What was her own ethical position at the time when she first met Martha Root in 1926?

Although it is impossible to be sure, I think it probable that the decision she made to continue her father's work always meant more to her than merely the promotion of the Esperanto language. For Zamenhof, the Esperanto language was always a means to an end and he spent many hours in the last ten years of his life developing and describing the ethical system which had motivated him to create a new language. The phrase "la interna ideo" - the inner idea - is frequently mentioned in Esperanto circles but what does it really mean?- Different things to different people, probably but to find out what it means to one thoughtful Esperantist.

Here you will find the eleventh chapter of The Esperanto Book by Donald J. Harlow and very interesting it is! In my opinion, though, it tells the reader a lot more about Don Harlow than it does about Dr Zamenhof, and his notion of the inner idea, and about the ethical doctrine called "Homaranismo." So, because I have not found a satisfactory discussion of this concept in the English language materials at my disposal (although there are some recent studies of Esperanto which I haven't yet read), I will deal with it here as well as space limitations permit.

In August 1906, when Lidia was nearly four years old, the euphoria of the first international conference at Boulogne had passed, and the Russian Empire was in turmoil.

It was at war with Japan, demonstrating workers were shot down in the streets of St Petersburg, and in the southern provinces Letts, Ukrainians and Caucasians were fighting for national independence. In savage response, the Russian government authorised the "Black Hand" units of the police to take advantage of old racial hatreds and to stir up pogroms in various towns...Russians against Georgians, Tartars and Armenians, and, of course, everyone against the Jews.

At the 2nd International Esperanto Conference in Geneva, Zamenhof, who was very distressed by so much racial conflict, bitterly opposed those leading Esperantists who were insisting that Esperanto was just a language, only to be considered from a utilitarian viewpoint. He spoke with passion about that "idea which has been with Esperanto from the first moment of its birth until now," and he asked:

"If the first Esperantists patiently put up with constant derision and made great sacrifices...did they all do this for some kind of practical utility? If, as has often happened, people have written to me from their death-beds that Esperanto was their remaining consolation - were they thinking about practical utility? No, no, no! All were thinking of the inner idea of Esperanto, all valued it not because it brings together the minds of men, but their hearts."

Well, a passing reference to the inner idea might do for a speech but Zamenhof knew that more was required. Much more! Even before the Conference, in January 1906, he had published in the Ruslanda Esperantisto a tract entitled "Dogmo de Hilelismo" which was re-published as a pamphlet, in both Russian and Esperanto, later in the year with a new title: Homaranismo .(For information about the Jewish theologian, Hillel, see
http://www.orthodoxunion.org/about/judaism/hillel.htm ).

Both the article and the pamphlet were published anonymously and when Zamenhof wrote more about this subject (as he frequently did) he signed himself "Homarano." (In fact, it was not until 1913 that a work on Homaranismo was published, (in Spain), and actually attributed to Dr Zamenhof.

Readers who are fluent Esperantists can download a compressed copy of various texts on Homarismo from this link.
http://www.cs.chalmers.se/~martinw/esperanto/veb/doku.html

Although everything that Zamenhof wrote on this subject is worth reading, the most useful single source is the pamphlet published in 1913. The text is divided into ten sections, each of which describes one fundamental principle of Homaranismo. From this text I have identified twelve main points and although this is a very brief summary, it may suffice to give you an idea of the complete doctrine.

The twelve main points of the Homaranismo manifesto

1. Treat the human race as one family.
2. Let this ideal guide all of your actions.
3. Do not judge any individual according to his racial origin but according to his behaviour and actions.
4. Any country does not belong exclusively to any one racial group but to all of its inhabitants equally.
5. Do not try to force your own language or religious faith on to other people.
6. The concept of humanity should be superior to that of nationality.
7. Define patriotism as service to a regional fraternal community. Never use it to justify hatred towards other people.
8. Language should be considered as a means and not an end in itself.
9. Use a neutral language to communicate with people whose native language is different from your own.
10. Let your own religion be a matter of personal choice and not something forced on you by your ethnic background.
11. In dealing with people with a different cultural background be governed by principles of common humanity and helpfulness.
12. In dealing with all members of the human race, try to promote sentiments which will unite and not divide.

As you can see, this ethical creed of Dr Zamenhof is fundamentally simple, logical, consistent, humane and not difficult to comprehend.

Well, I've just about used up my one thousand words for this instalment of the Esperanto topic. I will have to wait until next time to compare Homaranismo with Bahai teachings and discuss Lidia'a attitude to both. See you then.

(HOME)

PRI TUTKOMUNA LINGVO
PRI RUSA LINGVO
PRI ANGLA LINGVO
PRI ALIAJ NACIAJ LINGVOJ
BATALO DE LINGVOJ
ARTIKOLOJ PRI ESPERANTO
"" PRI "KONKURENTOJ" DE ESPERANTO
LECIONOJ DE ESPERANTO
.KONSULTOJ DE E-INSTRUISTOJ
ESPERANTOLOGIO KAJ INTERLINGVISTIKO
TRADUKO DE MALSIMPLAJ FRAZOJ
TRADUKOJ DE DIVERSAJ VERKOJ
FRAZEOLOGIO DE ESPERANTO
, . VERKOJ DE ZAMENHOF KAJ PRI LI
, PROKSIMAJ MOVADOJ
ELSTARAJ PERSONOJ KAJ ESPERANTO
PRI ELSTARAJ ESPERANTISTOJ
. EL HISTORIO DE RUSIA E-MOVADO
KION ONI SKRIBAS PRI ESPERANTO
ESPERANTO EN LITERATURO
. KIAL E-MOVADO NE PROGRESAS
HUMURO PRI KAJ EN ESPERANTO
- ESPERANTO POR INFANOJ
DIVERSAJHOJ
INTERESAJHOJ
PERSONAJHOJ
/ DEMANDARO / RESPONDARO
UTILAJ LIGILOJ
IN ENGLISHPAGHOJ EN ANGLA LINGVO
PAGHOJ TUTE EN ESPERANTO
NIA BIBLIOTEKO


All rights reserved. With any use of materials, a link to the site miresperanto.com is required!