Communication is not an easy thing. We talk, we listen. That is it. But what happens once the spoken word leaves the lips and before it reaches the brain seems to be a mystery. I could give a hundred examples of being misunderstood. We all could. That is why miscommunication seems to rank high on the chart of human conditions that needs addressing.
I guess the problem stems from the old cliche that we hear what we want to. After all, if the message is not one that sings to the ear, change the tune. A mother listening to her child's plaintiff cry, hears a cry for help. A stranger hearing the same thing, finds the cries annoying, that is, unless the stranger has his or her own small child and has a visceral transfer of emotion.
If I had to put my finger on the problem, I would chalk it up to a lack of empathy. Empathy, the ability to feel someone else's pain. Speaking of which, isn't that what the life of Christ was all about. Jesus is born to humble beginnings, preaches a message of love and understanding, is betrayed and crucified. His crucifixion symbolizes an atonement for the sins of the world. But Christ did not commit those sins. Why then did God demand that he be sacrificed for our sins? Well, just another example of transference. Let someone else deal with it. It is another day in Paradise for those of us who are well off.
Excuse me, if for a moment I become political. Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for President of the United States says in an interview "I don't care about the poor." Yes, I know, he followed that up saying that there is a safety net, and, if that is broke' he'll fix it. Nor does he care about the rich, he just cares about the hard working Middle Class whose votes he needs to get elected.
I like Mitt, he is a likable guy, and if he had a Facebook page, I would press the like button. Mitt's problem is not just his choice of words. How, after all can a candidate announce that he doesn't care about a voter. And sure enough, silver-tongued Newt Gingrich announces the next day that he cares about everyone.
I guess it is another example of Mitt not feeling the pain. I can sympathize with him. He is well-to-do, never wanted for anything, except votes, and has a hard time understanding what it means to struggle day to day. If he is going to communicate to the electorate, he better get the message. We are all struggling, we all have problems, and we all need to be heard. Empathize.
Enough of politics.
So, I am over half way into this essay, and I find myself talking about how others fail to relate to me. That, in itself, points to the problem. The major problem with communication is not with the talking or the writing of words. Rather, it is with the listening. Christ spoke rarely, saving his words for important occasions. Most of the time he was all about dealing with the problems of others. His most famous words, "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." is itself a role reversal.
So, I will try to listen, and then, maybe in understanding, I will be understood. A good start is Phil Collins song, Another Day in Paradise. Here are the lyrics, You can also listen to it on Youtube in another window.
Just think about it. No, do something about it.
Another Day in Paradise, official version.
She calls out to the man on the street, "Sir, can you help me? It's cold and I've nowhere to sleep. Is there somewhere you can tell me?" He walks on, doesn't look back, he pretends he can't hear her He starts to whistle as he crosses the street, seems embarrassed to be there Oh, think twice, it's just another day for you and me in paradise Oh, think twice, it's just another day for you, you and me in paradise.
Just think about it She calls out to the man on the street, he can see she's been crying She's got blisters on the soles of her feet, she can't walk, but she's trying Oh, just think twice, it's just another day for you and me in paradise Oh yes, think twice, it's just another day for you, you and me in paradise
Just think about it, uh - huh, just think about it.