In the last year of her life when I would frequently visit her, my dear mother often reminded me of the difference between “Come see me” and “Come see about me.” They sound like they mean the same thing, but they don’t.
If I come see you, that means I pop in for a short while, listen to your problems, perhaps pray with you, and leave. If, on the other hand, I come see about you, that means I came to stay and pray as long as needed. It means I’m willing to do whatever I can to help solve some of your problems, and stay as long as I possibly could.
Mom’s reminder was in my head when I wrote last week’s article about our need for meaningful conversation in our private and public life. At that writing, I did not have the space to include two other problems that get in the way of conversation, but I think they are important enough to discuss today.
The first has to do with personal habits of thought, and the second concerns deeply imbedded belief systems — the larger culture in which we exist. Both, however, create a kind of internal “noise” that interferes with, or altogether inhibits, our ability to talk openly and honestly with one another.
Our habits of thought are tied to personal values and behaviors. In the worst cases, the thief thinks everyone else is a thief. The liar thinks everyone is a liar. The con man thinks people are always trying to con him.
Although there are surely more positive examples of this sort of thing, the point is that while someone else is talking to them, they are already figuring out what they’re going to say in response. In other words, our personal values influence the way we receive and respond to information, whether positive or negative.