With all that has happened this past week, I feel as though a lot of people are compelled to write down their feelings; to be heard. Everyone has so much to say. We used to talk to one another at the local diner, or on our way through the grocery store aisles, or even via a quick chat with the neighbor as we went out to get the mail. Nowadays, it seems as though the bulk of the talking is done in writing via blogs, social media posts, feed updates, comment sections, and the like. Much like I am doing right now. I have a lot to say, so I write while you read. Then I’ll read what you write. And so it goes as huge amounts of information enter our brains unfiltered, going around and around until we process how we feel about any given subject…or get overwhelmed.
Last week, two bombs tore a rift in a 117 year old tradition, compelling people to run in to help those who could not run away; a fertilizer plant explosion shook Mother Earth in Richter scale proportions a few days before Earth Day; a man formerly known as an Elvis-impersonator sent ricin-laced letters to elected officials, while elected officials chose not to listen to the majority of the people who elected them and instead chose to vote down background checks for gun applicants.
On these subjects and more, everyone has something to say. Including me, it seems. Why do we crave so much information? Why do some type for hours until their fingers are numb, while others read every word until their eyes are bloodshot? I think we have so much to say simply because we can. It is the beauty of our liberty here in America to be able to speak and read freely. Open dialogue is a gift not to be taken lightly because it connects us. Language is what elevates us as humans. It is what forms everything from marriage proposals to ideologies. Words can be painful, happy, drive one to kill, save a life, or command a dog to sit. They are in one word – impressive.
It is when words are used in a technological vacuum that they lose their true meaning and become distorted – to the point where we have nothing important to say or have any value to add anymore. Similarly, when we are no longer able to speak face-to-face with our neighbor and learn about them – truly hear what they have to say through their accompanying facial expressions and mannerisms, that the personal connection language makes is relegated to lines of type preceded by a blinking cursor.
The irony of me typing this is not lost on me. However, I do invite you to now go out and talk to a human being face-to-face about the events of this past week. Listen to what they have to say, impart your thoughts upon them, and walk away knowing you made a made a connection because you not only heard their words, but you saw their tears.
Many in-person bonds were made through the tragedies of last week. A runner who stopped to comfort a wounded stranger, a nurse who held the hand of a dying women whose name he did not know, or a couple who stopped to bequeath a well-deserved medal on a young woman who was robbed of her personal victory. Few words were spoken, yet they had so much to say. It was their actions that spoke volumes.
In closing, I invite you to always follow this golden rule whether online or in person, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”