A New Level of Conversation

Some time ago, I was having a discussion with a friend in the wee small hours of the morning about the US Economy. He, leaning toward libertarianism, was steadily convincing me that the bailouts to various companies were really perpetuating bad business practices and that a second depression would be the kick the economy needs to put us on the right track again. He was really convincing me. That day, I became more of a conservative democrat. While I know it would be difficult for this nation to undertake such a downturn, I have faith in God and the resilience of the American people and I know that our business practices must change. That morning was a discussion of ideologies.

There were feelings behind what was said but two parties were open to one anothers' ideas and were listening to each other. We learned from one another and minds were changed.

You don't get discourse like that anymore. So often our level of discourse is based on the preconceived notions that the other party is wrong. We argue about religion and politics with all of our heart and souls, so focused on being right that we no longer focus on persuasion. The word "conversation" is according to the Oxford English Dictionary based off the Latin conversari for "to turn oneself about, to move to and fro, pass one's life, dwell, abide, live somewhere, keep company with." In essence, when we speak with others, we must remember that it is a collaborative process. We must speak with conviction, but we must speak with the awareness that we are speaking with someone else.

Conversation, when done right, should flow. All parties should listen to one another and speak appropriately. Like a jazz trio plays off of one anothers' moods and cues, so should people note the rhythm of speech. Oratory should be like a solo, conversation should be like a jazz trio. It should be improvisational. It should be moving. It should be collaborative. It should be strengthened by all parties. It should go somewhere and accomplish something. It shouldn't be shouting matches that achieve nothing but hurt feelings and high tempers. Aaron Sorkin once wrote, "Words, when spoken out loud for the sake of performance, are music. They
have rhythm, and pitch, and timbre, and volume. These are the properties of music, and music has the ability to find us and move us, and lift us up in ways that literal meanings can't."

When we speak to one another, we should always be focused on moving each other. We should be listening to that spark in others to feel that movement. We should grow, not just because it's good for us, but because it really sincerely makes us feel good. It should be heartening to learn from our friends and neighbors. We should be able to parse the things we agree from the point with which we do not agree, and not make ad hoc claims about the thoughts of others.

It make take time for us to realize this as a people. I have to remember to do this everyday, myself. But as a conversationalist, it's good work that I like doing. It's something we should all do if we have mouths to speak, ears to hear, hands to type and sign, and eyes to see. Discourse should be more than what goes one when we wait to speak. It should be more than annoying white noise in our self-centered days. It should be one of the most important aspects of the communing of humanity.

We all have learned things in our lives and we all have the capacity to be teachers. Being open to spreading and hearing the messages in one anothers' lives is crucial to our existence. Let's start doing so.


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