Those who know don’t speak.
Those who speak do not know.
– Lao Tzu
We talk too much.
We give opinions on things we know little about and expect people to bend to our will and our ideas just because we made them. We impatiently wait for our turn to speak. We occasionally hear, but we sure as hell don’t listen.
It is the typical Western way; impose our dominance, entitle ourselves to the microphone, behave as the ultimate knowers of how all things are and how all shall become in the future, treat everyone that isn’t us as inferior, expect everyone to listen to what we have to say, disregard anything anyone below us has to say, and then in the end expect to get it all our way. If it isn’t our way, we complain about what we were unable to obtain. We forget others. We say we want liberalism for all, but as long as it isn’t at the expense of what we have. We are not willing to sacrifice any of our fortune and privilege in order to raise the less fortunate up, reaching true equality. Instead we expect them to either rise to our current level (via our own constructed systems and platforms and in alignment with our beliefs), or fuck off.
The way we currently live is pretty great, but lately it hasn’t been working. Divide, mistrust in our government, fear of our economic and environmental future. Our current system of liberal democracy is a bit broken (#understatement). But we are far too arrogant to admit it and far too proud and cowardly to learn how to improve it. Because we already are the ultimate. So what could be better?
We don’t listen.
It is well documented that our indigenous ancestors operated as a non-written civilization. Knowledge has been shared amongst mob across 65,000 years of generations through story and imagery. Through sharing and listening and discussing. The keepers of knowledge were those of high respect within the community and knowledge was only passed to those when deemed ready to listen. When discussion takes place about a topic or an incident or a local law, unlike western conversation, the discussion can take a long time to work through. The listeners listen, presently and intently, without interruption or talking over. The sharing and discussion of knowledge is often not time linear, it moves all about to help accurately create context and deep understanding of the story. Indigenous discussion involves long pauses of empty space, without any talking. This is normal and important for the knowledge to be both adequately heard and questions to be adequately formulated. Western discussion involves interruption and rebuttal, often before the end of the first sentence or first sharing has been completed. Indigenous discussion is respectful of one’s knowledge and experiences and of the other’s importance to learn and develop accurate understanding. The goal of Western discussion is to impose one’s opinion on others, regardless of prior knowledge or experience, aiming to completely dominate the conversation until the other has taken side, bent to their will, or left left in a hollow rage. Rarely does anything progress.
We think we know. We are quick to share our opinions about January 26 and COVID vaccinations and what the best diet is. But how many of us truly have enough knowledge and understanding about any of these topics to really be in a position to share that opinion? Should we sometimes just shut the fuck up and admit when we don’t know enough about a topic to warrant an opinion? Yes, we have our liberal freedom of our right for free speech, but just because you can talk, does it really mean you should?
Instead of saying “yeah, but”, how about we seek those with real skin in the game and say “tell me more”. Instead of pretending we know or protecting the fact that we don’t know a thing, it is completely humble and noble to just say “I don’t know.” “I’m really not educated enough to have a strong enough opinion about this.” “I think I need to learn more about this first” “Teach me”. It is not okay to deny others their right for equality and liberalism and clarity just because we can’t be fucked learning, and opt to use hollow and selfish arguments in order to excuse ourselves from any responsibility.
When we stop interrupting and stop imposing our knowledge-less opinions on others, we open ourselves up to new ideas and a range of interpretations about how any and all things work. With greater knowledge and understanding we give ourselves and our communities the ultimate opportunity to flourish and prosper.
“And that’s what is so insidious about talk. Anyone can talk about himself or herself. Even a child knows how to gossip and chatter. Most people are decent at hype and sales. So what is scarce and rare? Silence. The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.” – Ryan Holiday