We communicate in tweets and texts. Snippets and phrases roll off our tongues as if it’s the final say on a subject. We comment, “like”, and post. When do we have conversations and discussions? When do we read a paragraph that’s longer then three sentences or an article that’s longer than 300 words? I’d say we’re in a bit of a communication conundrum.
Besides our character – who we are when no one’s looking – communication is how we are perceived by others. I know. We’re not supposed to care what others think about us, but we are to care about our integrity. And our integrity is directly related to the quality of being honest and having high moral principles. Our integrity is intricately wrapped up in our character and communication.
All this teaches me one thing: I need to be very mindful of what I say, how I say it, and where it’s said because there won’t be an opportunity for clarification or dialogue before judgement about me is made.
Maybe you’re thinking you’re already mindful of what you say, how you say it, and where it’s said. I’m sure our politicians and corporate officers think they, too, are careful about what they say. Yet, we all know that people are never as careful as they think they are by what’s retweeted and the sound-bites we hear over and over again until we’re ready to scream, “Enough!” In the meantime, judgment is already cast on the person whose words and message have been co-opted. And it’s too late to take back or repair the damage done to that person’s integrity.
So how do we fix our communication conundrum? It doesn’t seem like people are going to stop tweeting or posting and start engaging in more meaningful dialogue any time soon. Nor is the media going to change they’re entertainment formula (I gave up on getting any real news or information on regular network broadcasts long ago). And I can’t do anything about anyone else anyhow.
Since I can only affect myself and since I know my character influences my words, I must attend to those things that shape and influence my character. Unfortunately, this is a lifelong, day-by-day endeavor. There are no simple formulas and no magic incantations. There aren’t even any rules to go by. To complicate matters even more, my character is best developed when I consider others.
What?!?, you say. Doesn’t that go against everything you just set up? Now you have something to ponder this week. I’ll add a favorite little passage of mine from the Psalms for you to ponder on as well:
Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the Lord; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved (Psalm 15:2-5).
The key to looking at a text that was written for another time and another culture is to read it for its basic message. Don’t get hung up on the literal words. Instead, consider what the overall message the poet is trying to convey. There are all sorts of little nuggets that emerge when you do that.
Here’s a novel thought: why not share this text with a couple of friends and have an actual conversation about it!