Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Shared Languages

I’ve been in four countries now where very few people speak the same language I do and even when I do come together with someone who speaks English there are challenges, either from accents or the meaning of words. 

However, I’ve had reason to think about this – communication, that is – long and hard over the past few days and I’ve realized that in my own country, I really don’t speak the same language as many of my countrymen and they don’t speak mine.

What I mean by that is that we aren’t hearing each other at all. And I fear we never will. I see things everyday on my trusty laptop that concern me, either through news reports or social media. I watch as both conservatives and liberals – I am a very liberal liberal – speak their truths and then I watch the commentaries afterwards – again, on both social media and new sources. These are not conversations. They are diatribes against whatever is the news release of the day, or anything anyone has on their mind. There is no attempt to understand another viewpoint and frankly, that includes me, too.

Recent studies have shown that we are becoming more and more isolated within groups of our own persuasions. Liberals read and watch liberal outlets and Conservatives do the same thing. And thus we are being pushed further and further apart.

So here’s my beef with turning everything into a battle of politics or religion. What’s the point? If we are not listening to each other, it is simply a vomiting of opinion. My opinion isn’t going to be changed by the fact someone I have heard of or even know believes something. What I think and believe is formed by experience and true information. I don’t accept things at face value, either. Here follows an example:

I was on Instagram and a picture of Jon Stewart was posted next to a policeman with the caption “His only crime was”…(then an explanation that he was supporting continued care for 9/11 first responders). This would lead you to believe that Jon Stewart had been arrested for something. Not true at all. And these types of provocative messages appear all day long on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. from both sides of any issue. Had I not looked further into it I would have been irate and fuming. 

So what is the point, really? If you just want people to know where you stand, I get it. But let’s not pretend there’s any higher purpose. Change only comes about when both parties are open to change. Period. When I meet someone I feel will listen to my point of view without judging me, and I do sometimes, then I open up about how I feel. The furthest I’m willing to go in an open forum is to support those who do express an opinion I agree with by clicking "like" or the heart sign (whatever), and in truth there’s no actual benefit to that either, except not letting that person hang out there all alone. 

So this is an open question to all, feel free to express yourself here, because that’s what this post is for.

Hopefully, someday we’ll all speak the same language again. I’m usually an optimist but I don’t hold out much hope.

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