My Psalm 123
What Say You?
I received my first iPhone several years ago. Having had a so-called “smart phone” (If it is so smart, why doesn’t it clean my house for me or reduce my weight every time I use it? That would really be a smart phone!) before, I really expected very little change in usage. I needed a new phone and quite frankly, its popularity was not the hook that sold me on it. The great deal my carrier was offering was. At any rate, I quickly removed my phone from its box and smugly bypassed the instructional booklet printed in a font so small only an ant could read it.
A week later I returned with a family member. While I did not profess proficiency on my new phone, I was pleased enough with it to recommend it to said family member. The sales team was in the store and they welcomed me warmly. One young man approached and asked how I liked the new phone. Being an honest person, I told him I liked it but was having problem with a couple of things. He looked puzzled, as if who could possibly not like the greatest selling phone in the world, and inquired as to the nature of my problem. “Well,” I began, “actually the hardest thing I do is make a call. I have FaceBook, checking email, surfing the Internet down just fine. Calling, though, is a bit more laborious with this phone than my other one.” The clerk continued to look puzzled. “Using it to make calls? Do you do that often?” he asked. I looked at him to see if he was being comical but his look was quite sincere. “It is a phone, isn’t it?” I answered his question with my own question. He shifted from one foot to another and then explained. “Using an iPhone to make a phone call is like…fifth in reasons for using it.”
Verbal communication has become a less frequent manner of communicating in today’s world. George Bernard Shaw one said: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” While the Internet was a distant fantasy in the minds of some dreamers, Shaw might well have been discussing the most common manner of communication today – electronic. For some the Internet was a way to comingle the various cultures of the world. For others, it was the world of the devil.
The past thirty years have proven that electronic communication has its good points and its bad. In the twenty-first century cultural climate of “putting it all out there”, people are seeming to tell all about what they wear, where they go, and even what the food looks like that is placed before them. It would appear that most have been reduced to mindless followers with little to do but validate their lives by the “likes” of strangers.
There have been great advantages to the advent of the electronic communicating age. Bill Gates explains: “The PC has improved the world in just about every area you can think of. Amazing developments in communications, collaboration and efficiencies. New kinds of entertainment and social media. Access to information and the ability to give a voice people who would never have been heard.” Anyone with a library card in the United States can have access to a computer. Worldwide Internet cafes offer an electronic lifeline.
While the song might claim the love is what makes the world go ‘round, it really is communication. From communication, good communication, Charles Darwin explains why collaboration resulting from communication charts the course of the world: “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too), those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Usually we listen to respond. How often do you listen just to hear what is being said? Unfortunately, too often we have expectations and assumptions about what is about to be told. We tend to hear what we expect and not what is being said. The best way to communicate is to listen. We should listen to creation and to others but most importantly, we need to listen to our hearts and our soul.
As Eric Frohm once said: “Both dreams and myths are important communications from ourselves to ourselves. If we do not understand the language in which they are written, we miss a great deal of what we know and tell ourselves in those hours when we are not busy manipulating the outside world.”
Communication is a skill and can be learned by anyone with patience. When Twitter came out, a program micro-blogging system that requires one to communicate in less than a specified number of characters, predictions for its success were dim. They have since been proven wrong. While originally Twitter followers could be linked geographically and mostly tweeted information related to their proximity, that has since changed as people began to not only tweet but retweet and share.. In 2012 the Associate Press reported about one chain of tweets: “Perhaps the most complicated geographic chain was a user near Dusseldorf, Germany who tweeted a link to a United Kingdom newspaper’s story about an article in the China’s People’s Daily about a story in the United States’ The Onion about North Korea.”
The electronic communication highway is bringing people together and providing communication pathways never before imagined. More than just a brief way to promote one’s self, it has become a thought exercise similar to Earnest Hemingway’s famous shortest story: “For sale. Baby Shoes. Never worn.”
Stephen Covey sums up communication this way: “”In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do.” Hopefully we are listening not only to others but also to ourselves. Most importantly, we need to listen to what life has taught us and go forward communicating that wisdom.
My Psalm 123
I lift up my soul to you, O Father.
I seek to hear your voice as I feel your love.
With silent communication in prayer
I seek wisdom and guidance.
May the lips of my mouth speak only with your love.
May the hands of my being move in your grace.
May my actions communicate your presence in my life.
Everything I do is a conversation of what I believe.
Help me turn a deaf ear to those berating and a joyful heart to the heavens.
Let me hear your voice louder, echoing it in my own speech, O Lord.