The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

January 15, 2014

Primus Mootry: Can we talk?

People don’t talk much anymore. I’m really not sure if they ever did. By “talk” I mean communicate, not simply sounding out words that may or may not express a complete thought.

Communication is a process — a meaningful conversation — that requires both a listener and a speaker. It’s a two-way deal based on open-mindedness, sincerity and honest responses. If either speaker or listener is not paying full attention, the process is at best diminished, at worst, just gibberish.

As I have observed in previous articles, it is sadly ironic that in this great Age of Information there is so little communication. We talk at each other, to each other, but not with one another. We seem more interested in knowing the right answers than in posing the right questions.

There are many people who pride themselves on knowing the answer to just about any question, even if they don’t have a clue. The main problem with this is that, if you know everything, you can’t learn anything. By consequence, people like this don’t get any smarter. They are talking to themselves.

And so, if what I’m saying here has merit, why is it so? Why is it that some of us feel compelled to know the answer to everything? Why can’t we talk? What is it that gets in the way of our ability to hold a meaningful conversation?

I think part of the answer is arrogance. There are those who feel that if they do not know the answers, they won’t look very bright. To those poor souls, I would remind them of something I think humorist Mark Twain once said: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

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