The next time you’re with friends, tell a brief story about what you did on Memorial Day weekend. Now pass out a piece of paper and have them write what you just said in 50-words-or-less. See where I’m going with this?
If you have say 10 listeners, you’re guaranteed at least eight remarkably different 50-words. Each person listened to you the same way, but they heard you quite differently. They heard your intents, actions and descriptions of that day the only way they could — through the mental filter they subconsciously brought with them. Including their different gender, race, education, biases and predispositions.
The experiment is hardly new or unique, so you may be inclined to take it for granted. Like I do every time I read about a pricey new research project that comes to some pretentious conclusion about human behavior that’s as old as my grandparents’ wise old stories around the dinner table. However, this little experiment’s large wisdom is nothing to take for granted. Because you see it’s the eternal secret to the eternal conflict between the people in your life…in your community…in your nation…in the world itself:
No one since the dawn of time has ever been quite able to completely understand any one else…!
Do you get a picture of 7 billion earthlings stumbling blindly through the dark? Well yeah, metaphorically speaking that’s about right! I think we can date this to Eden where Adam and Eve apparently got everything the Big Guy warned them about all wrong. And now a gazillion extraordinary communication thingamajigs later, we’re still mis-communicating with one another. Players on the field…presidents at international conferences… doctors & patients…lawyers & juries…husbands & wives….you & me right here. A misunderstood word or gesture…a too harsh comment or a too subtle signal…and, god forbid, a too hasty post on one of the social media that goes viral with yet another nutty rumor or half truth.
One little problem.
If somehow the human race were to actually overcome our stubborn mis-communicating ways, what in heaven’s name would happen to all our broken-heart ballads by all our broken-heart divas…? What, no Lady GaGa or Taylor Swift? Wait a minute, wait minute. I’m thinking maybe this wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all….
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