May 12, 2010
“Talk to me. What do you think?”
There are probably no scarier words for many of us. Someone asks us to express emotion, ideas, and otherwise filter a million firing neurons into words. We all know how to talk and write. We can talk about things we know nothing about, too. I may want to discuss the causes of the Civil War to gain information. You may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of international church ministry work without being devout yourself. All of us can talk about politics and art without necessarily being artists and politicians, if only to expand our knowledge or express an opinion based on the available information.
So why is that we’re so afraid of giving voice or text to ideas that we find abhorrent? Why do we believe that to say something gives it power?
Office feuds that may start as simple misunderstandings turn to grudges. Friends harbor ill-will based on minor comments.
see more Funny Graphs
Art is censored because of a lack of communication.
That’s right. Communication helps art. It also helps politics. If we can talk about something in an impartial way, in the academic way, we can address it. I’m getting really sick and tired of people who don’t want to talk about things because the topics are either uncomfortable or “should not be discussed.”
I understand some people think we shouldn’t even discuss sex, religion, political views, etc, because they cause strife… but they cause strife because we disagree about them. Swift had entire countries at war based on what side of the egg they cracked!
Ten points if you get the reference.
Believe it or not, it is possible to research and learn about a topic without actually endorsing it. I once had a project where I researched the Navajo and Huichol religious practices involving mind-altering substances like peyote. Granted, I felt like I was on a bad trip by the time we finished everything with five minutes to spare, but the research and analysis of that culture does not mean I use psychedelics.
The ability to talk about something without bursting into an emotion train wreck is a skill that helps people get to the heart of the matter, to truth born from facts, without the baggage and smoke-screen of emotion.
Let me put it this way. What’s the difference between religion and science? Religion offers answers based on predetermined rules and scripture. What happens if a fact flies in the face of that scripture? What if someone found out that there was no Garden of Eden and, instead, we all formed out of goo millions of years ago?
Emotional reaction sets in. It is no longer a question of looking at reality, of studying that which can be measured. It become an exercise in who can yell the loudest or invoke the most emotion. This is where I sincerely believe that a scientific mind-set is important. Science only seeks to describe. That’s it. It’s the reason the realm of the supernatural is of no interest in science, because if it cannot be measured or calculated in any way, it has no bearing on science.
Academic discussion is not just something you do in college. It is a skill that is sorely lacking in everyday life. A biologist would not be afraid to work with bacteria because bacteria make you ill. A physicist does not shy away from smashing atoms together. They each take precautions just like people in conversation must assess a situation and make informed decisions about what to say and what effect words will have, especially in an emotionally-charged situation.
I’m not saying emotions are bad, but they have their use just like truth and logic. Don’t neglect your feelings. Sometimes, you’ll feel something before you understand it. A hunch can be your mind’s way to trying to tell you something before you’ve worked it all out, but a hunch is not evidence and it’s not logical. It’s a step.
Don’t “feel” your way through an argument or a problem any more than you would feel your way through a room. Open your eyes.