If yours is one of the roughly 97% of American households that own a TV, you have likely been asked the question “Can you hear me now?” Similar to “Where’s the Beef?” and “Don’t leave home without It”, “Can you hear me now?” has entered into the collective conversation.
It strikes me that the more universal question is “Will you Listen to me, Now?” As almost everyone has a communication device within arm’s reach, the opportunity to receive a message has become secondary to being receptive to that message.
The onslaught of things clamoring for our attention continues to escalate. In my own lifetime, the hourly amount of time TV networks allow for commercials has more than doubled, and we are even subjected to commercials at movie theatres. However, without doubt, the greatest interruption to communication is the universal and portable communicator - the “Smart” Phone.
From our first cry to our Last Words, humans are asking for someone to tend to their needs, be they a dry diaper or a sympathetic ear. As we all learned in 7th grade science class, there must be a sender as well as a receiver before communication is possible. If both parts are not active, there is no message received.
Whether your political stripe leans more blue, red, or a shade of purple, I think we can agree that there are too many raised voices wanting to be heard and a definite shortage of people willing to listen. “Our side” seems convinced that “the other side” is just out of touch with reality and that if we could only just get them to understand, our world would be a better place. However, when the “other side” is equally convinced that theirs is the only position grounded in reality (and everybody else has lost their minds) there is not a lot of shared middle ground. Further, for the first time in history we are all able to find news channels that not only share our sentiments, but subtly stroke our assumptions that anyone that doesn’t think like us just doesn’t get it.
A little research finds that there are over 2,200 bible verses about listening, and about 700 on speaking. As if that weren’t enough instruction on which activity we should concentrate on, we are all born with the inescapable ratio of having exactly twice the number of ears as we have speaking gear.
I would love to hear your thoughts. I promise I will listen.
Bryan Trible, CLU, CRPC