Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Don’t Listen If Nothing Is Being Said

That almost says what we should do when people around us insist on saying nothing. A more accurate thought would be, don’t listen to the content only when a speaker appears to have nothing to say. Instead, listen with great care to what they choose to talk about and what they avoid talking about. You may learn more from that process than “listening” to the speech in the traditional sense.

Think back to that one time you came home way too late and you just knew that you were going to be grilled about what you were doing, with whom and where. You started to think of what you could say that might protect you from telling your parents what they really wanted to know. You hit on a plan.

Talk at length about things you know already that they have an interest in and invite them not only to listen but to participate. When the time for discussion has been used up, excuse yourself and head off to school. That way there never was a moment when your parents had the opportunity to talk to you about things you really didn’t want to discuss. OK, I’m the only one that ever did such a thing.

Unfortunately, it appears to me that in the political arena that is exactly what we are witnessing. There are two main points to this obfuscation.

1) Talk for no more than 30 to 60 seconds. During that time you should be able to say things that your audience will be able to use to build an “appropriate” context around.

2) Create fear about things that might or might not be done which will negatively impact the listener’s life. The listeners will again build a context around what is being said and may even vote that way.

What we are not seeing is free and open discussion/debate about the issues facing the world now. For example, would a list of key issues facing you in your everyday life look something like this?

1) Employment—am I going to get a job that will allow me to marry have children, educate them and retire?

2) Education—will the costs of education eventually deprive me or my children or grand-children from the education they need?

3) Health—will I be able to maintain my health and the health of my family thus assuring us of a long and happy life?

4) Environment—will the earth be substantially like it was when I was a child. Will it produce enough food, water and pure air to sustain the life I would prefer to live?

5) National posture—will nations around my country fear, hate or at least not come to the support of my nation as a result of things that my government does?

I would assume that your list would be different, but night very well include some of the issues my list does. It might even have a different order. But, most of the things we’re now hearing “discussed and debated” on the political stage in the United States includes almost nothing about those issues.

Listening to what is not being said and what is being said leads me to believe that most of the candidates are more interested in being elected than they are is making college more affordable and health care possible for my family not o mention jobs that I can work and while earning a living that might permit me to retire comfortably.

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