Mairzy Doats / Mares Eat Oats at first blush seems to be a harmless, slightly annoying nonsense children's song that has an annoying tendency to worm its way into one's psyche and repeat itself endlessly, making one resort to singing the "I love you, you love me..." theme from Barney to try and dislodge it from your brain. But I remember my grandad singing it to me as a child (me, not him) and thinking it was one of the coolest things in the world. The initial confusion gave way to a flash of understanding once I gained the right perspective on what I was hearing. The sense of accomplishment and revelation was wonderful to a young child.

However, unintended or not, the song can also be seen as a form of social commentary on more than one level. The twist of the song is simple - what sounds like gibberish initially, becomes understandable when see (heard) from another perspective. On a larger scale, this can be made to apply to society, and to human civilization as a whole.

On the interpersonal level the Mairzy Doats principle remains in effect. The legendary lack of understanding between the sexes continues unabated, the disparity between the worldviews of teenagers and adults continues without any attenuation, and husbands still can't understand their wives. One person can hear an entire statement or conversation in their native language, and still understand little or none of it.

On the level of the subculture, or class-based society, groups of people with the same language, but different values and mores, the interclass communication is hampered by the variance of meanings within the common language. This concept in itself has been the fodder for innumerable works of fiction, and more importantly, has been a driving force between countless major societal changes throughout recorded history. As classes become further stratified and more distant, and more powerful classes hold sway over the less influential, the foundation is often set for civil war and a major transfer of power within society. The root cause of the class stratification is, many times, a simple lack of communication despite a common language and common origins.

On the inter-cultural level, communications between societies are riddled with problems due to a lack of cultural perspective. Despite the best translators and the most skilled diplomats, societies throughout history have risen and fallen and gone to war because they figuratively heard "Mairzy Doats" and couldn't derive "Mares Eat Oats" from it. The lack of cultural awareness between societies is perhaps the most tenacious problem in the history of diplomacy, whether between the Spaniards and the Inca, the American colonists and the Native Americans, or the current divide between Western society and The Far East and Arabic societies.

So, what is the solution? A final solution is certainly not apparent at this juncture in history, but the globalization of culture is having an overall beneficial effect it seems. Perhaps there may be truth hidden in plain sight, as in Mairzy Doats. It wouldn't hurt, perhaps, if the diplomats and world leaders would take some time out to rediscover the simplicity of childhood in song and verse... maybe there is something yet to learn there.

Chark wanders off with fingers in ears humming the melody to Pop goes the weasel loudly to himself...

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