We find ourselves in an interesting conundrum these days. There’s just so much to talk about! The election, climate change, systemic racism, coronavirus, social injustice, back to school, and everyone’s favourite, the weather.
Information has never been easier to come by. You’d have to terminate your wifi and wireless plan to fall out of touch, and even then, the news would find you.
I find myself struggling to reconcile the difference between what I’m seeing on my news feeds and what’s taking place in my community. I’m by no means so naive to think that if I can’t see the hardships and problems in my community that they don’t exist in close proximity. I’m very much empathetic to the challenges that other communities are facing both near and far, and with that, more aware than ever of how fortunate and privileged I am.
What I find to be the most troublesome is the new attitude that everyone should be talking about everything all of the time. The notion that if you have a platform (which we all do — it’s called social media, and it’s free), that we somehow have an obligation to be creating content and contributing to conversations in which we have little or no experience — simply for the sake of constantly communicating what we stand for and taking a side.
Is this productive discourse?
I enjoy learning and conversing as much as the next person. And I regularly seek out and follow points of view that compete with my own so that I can gain perspective from the “other side.”
I don’t follow along for the sake of confrontation or to refute opinions and beliefs that conflict with my own. I don’t seek discomfort to then turn around and propagate my own dogma.
I listen. And I say even less.
In a lot of ways, wearing a mask has been good for us. It makes you realize how much nonsense falls out of your mouth when all of a sudden the inside of your mask smells like your lunch and you can’t catch your breath. It’s in those moments I realize, “shit, I’ve been talking too much.”
I find myself trying to say more with less words.
I find myself constantly looking for the language, tonality, and phonetics that will have the greatest impact — not necessarily those that will make me sound and feel smart.
The parallels of this experience and physical training are nearly kindred.
Through hard exercise, you learn that complaining is wasted breath. You learn that your actions and not your words are the only thing that will get you the results you desire. You learn that procrastinating and dancing around the challenging task ahead won’t make it any easier. You learn to know the feeling of an unspoken respect for those brave enough to stand alongside you in the arena.
You learn that saying less actually allows you to have more of an impact when it matters most.
When you feel like you need to speak, start with a thought instead. Communicate with less words — remove the padding. Cut to the heart of something. Live with the consequence of every word you speak and the responsibility of making a choice.