The Need for Conversation

We text, we call. We email. We use Facebook and Instagram. But we don’t converse. More and more that fact is being noticed by teachers, by intellectuals, and more recently in a book by Celeste Headlee, a radio show host. Her book, “We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matters,” sets forth the problem and what to do about it. Key to her solution is how to listen. When we think about it, how often do we listen? We don’t have to the way we currently communicate. And one consequence is that not listening feeds our own point of view, keeps us from better understanding or even knowing that of another. Wouldn’t that fuel the very partisanship that is tearing apart ours and many societies? We talk, certainly we talk. We share our feelings, we share what happened to us, we share our opinions, but the art of conversation is not in our repertory of communication. That is if we define conversation as the sharing of ideas and of thought. It takes listening to do that certainly, something we often are not good at anymore, but it also takes more than that.  It takes effort.  I must confess there are times when I am reluctant to engage in such an effort, and too I’ll admit that’s because conversation then seems like hard work. Yet looking at those times  when I did put in the effort, back in the days when conversation was popular and I did engage, I must say  the  stimulation, the excitement, the joy the inspiration, the enrichment made whatever effort involved worth it.

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