There are times when it is better not to understand each other; particularly in important matters of principle and of conviction. Consider leaving a few things misunderstood for the sake of peace and quiet.
This reminds me of a story:
Tamerlane had Nasreddin called in his presence and ordered,
“Worm, you will be my envoy to the emperor of Constantinople.”
“What should I tell him, Master?”
“Nothing, my deeds speak loud enough. Just make a good impression, seeing that he is my ally now. Entertain him nicely. These crazy Christian emperors always want to discuss religion. You will be the right person to debate with him as you don’t speak his language and he doesn’t understand yours. Go!”
Nasreddin went to Constantinople and was introduced with great pomp at the Byzantine court. And indeed, emperor Emanuel desired to dispute religion with the envoy of the scourge of God – who happened to also be his temporary saviour - as an enemy of his enemy, sultan Bajazet. Since his host did not speak Greek, the Emperor suggested a silent debate, with gestures. In fact he was very excited to argue with a heretic monkey in the language of signs. Hodja – who had no idea of what to discuss - explained through the dragoman how honoured he felt.
The reception hall was glittering with jewellery, porphyry, mosaics and sculptures, like a huge bazaar. Basins were replenished with exquisite fruits. Fifteen immaculate columns of Phrygian marble, walls plated with silver, a gold tree of natural size, with leaves and branches made of jewels, artificial chirping birds, two massive gold lions that actually roared... The Hodja was about to faint in the odour of incense. In the middle of all this the Emperor, like a sun of purple. His head was so heavy with jewellery that he could hardly hold it straight. He had to lean it on a side, on his right hand and that gave him an air of modesty and thoughtfulness. Nasreddin, gathered his courage and stepped forward with dignified humility. This, after having been several times thrown to the floor, in sign of respect dictated by the ceremonial.
The emperor descended from his throne. In all his majesty he silently pointed the index towards the sky.
Nasreddin bowed and pointed his finger downwards to his feet.
The Emperor paused thoughtfully. Then, with a decisive, movement of the hand, he lifted one finger and presented it to Nasreddin.
There was an awkward pause, and the Hodja seemed to make a great effort to compose himself. His face serious and calm, he then finally presented two trembling fingers slightly curved to the Emperor.
Emanuel didn't hesitate at this, smiled and stretched three fingers back towards Nasreddin.
Nasreddin's nostrils flared imperceptibly, and his hand balled up into a fist that he held forward.
There was a long moment of silence. The courtiers stuck in respectful attitudes. Their eyes glittered as so many precious stones. The innumerate candles and their threads of perfumed smoke seemed immobile themselves, in expectation.
At last, the emperor turned in full majesty to a fruit-basket, plucked a sweet grape and ate it with intent.
Nasreddin, after observing quietly the imperial chewing, put unexpectedly one hand under his garment. The courtiers froze with alarm. There was no danger though. Hoça produced a smoked fish. He ate up a whole herring with bones and everything, ignoring the amazement of the noble audience.
At the sight of this, the emperor crossed himself. Then he rejoined his throne and Nasreddin was led to the door, backwards, with many signs of respect.
Later, the courtiers begged the emperor to let them understand the meaning of the silent disputation.
“How could you miss the meaning? This man is a skilful theologian. I must confess that he won the debate.” said Emanuel. “First I pointed to the sky to affirm that God is above us, in Heaven. He retorted with his finger downwards, that He also reigns here on earth. Then I showed with my finger that there is only one god as even the Musulmans agree. He reproached with two fingers that for us Christians there is also His Son. I hastened to complete, with three fingers, that we should not forget the Holy-Ghost. To this he replied shrewdly with his closed fist that he is aware of the three being one. I did not want to hurt his faith with this subject anymore. So I ate a grape to remind that life is sweet. But he observed, by swallowing a whole herring that we must take life as it is, good and bitter, altogether. Yes, he is a wise man and a friendly emissary.”
A few days later, back at Timur’s tents, in the steppe, the Emir wanted in his turn to know how things happened.
“I was forced to speak without words. The ghiaur king is a rude person... He pointed upwards to threaten me that, at any moment, I am at risk to be lifted and hanged if I don’t behave in his presence. I pointed downwards that, whatever befalls me, the whole world is at my master’s feet. Then he advanced one finger to say: “Yes, but your master has only one good eye” I showed him with two fingers that Timur’s one eye is worth both his. He insisted that all this only makes three eyes between you two. To such an insult I showed with my fist that he will end up badly beaten. He made threat by picking a grape that this is how he will pluck and bolt our eye balls. I impressed him finally by eating a whole herring with bones and all so that he understood what awaits him and his little kingdom. Finally he gave up and let me go with due honour.