Is there enough talk in the world?

I prize solitude. Leave me alone and to my own devices, and I’ll survive just fine. I don’t even need them gadgets, books, or the constant, reassurance of any sort of din. I am at peace with myself, always was. But I am also of the world, and therefore was also always at tenterhooks with the world. I saw patterns of cracks and disintegration everywhere. There was chaos outside, and when I came into contact with it, it would develop as chaos inside of me. Conversation seemed overrated, and I clutched close the idea of my interaction with people as if it were precious gold. It was me against the world.

The past year has been a karmic lesson in the importance of communication. It started with my hierarchical superior at work- also a man who took particular interest in mentoring me and guiding me with my professional life within the organization, who held ‘communication’ as the golden epithet of a model contributor to the world. He claimed that there was nothing to learn or accomplish except to be able to communicate, and to communicate precisely. It has been a long while coming, but I think I finally know what he meant.

Sure I could always string crisp words together, toy with their meanings, and spin some awe-striking sentences that were sprinkled with words that were straight out of vocab flash-cards, and some very colourful expressions. But was I ever getting my point across? Was it timely, well-thought out in terms of another’s receipt of my ideas, and not overwhelming? I am known as coming across too harsh, intimidating, and aggressive to the point of polemy. I can mow you down in a debate and throw facts at you faster than one of those tennis ball-throwing machines. Daddy always warned me against winning the argument, and coaxed me that it was more important to win over the man. Never got it. But nobody put it as succinctly for me as Ben Franklin when he said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” That is why tyranny always failed, despite any proclaimed nobility of intentions.

Thinking was, for me, a good enough precedent to action. I was a lightning bolt on a mission; if I had departed to strike, I would. Thought and action, that was all there was to the world for me, according to me. It made me feel as if I were on war-mode all the time- so much angst! But I think I’m on the path to involving people in my plans. Letting them know of my intentions, asking them for their opinion. I think that’s what Hagakure meant  when he warned us of the pitfall of ‘selfishness’ in the Book of Samurai. Without communication and seeking opinion or counsel from others, there really seems to be no way in getting the world to ‘conspire with you’, so to speak.

In continuation of my exploration of my aunt’s writings, I’m sharing an excerpt of one of her pieces. If you’d like to read the entire thing, you can check it out here.

Coming from the land of the Mahatma, we are the Gurus of bloodless battle. Yet it is sad that my worthy opponents undermine the effect of talk or speech. Can you visualise a Gandhi sitting tight at Sabarmathi, chanting a freedom mantra and sweeping out the British Raj? No, not ever! So also, can you imagine an Abraham Lincoln minus his eloquence? He mustered all his power and strength to talk, talk and talk the American nation to abolish slavery. What with Nelson Mandela? Martin L.King? Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill?- all gifted speaks who have talked and changed the destinies of nations.

Things don’t happen when we sit back on arm chairs put on our thinking caps, get divine inspirations, hop out and nosedive into action without a word. We are not magicians who can just dip into a tall hat, say Abracadabra and pull out happening dreams! There is necessarily an infinitely large void between thought and action. This gap is filled with action of sorts- we probe, we explore,we analyze, evaluate, exchange opinions, ponder, strategise, and then we get to act. It is aphenomenal process- slow, sequential, steady but sure. Why slow? Because we don’t want to gatecrash and make mistakes. Why sequential? Because we want a scientific, objective premeditated approach. Why steady, because speed is devastating and unprofessional and because we have controls at every phase. At long last, we get the all rolling on the action track! We will reach the destination with patience and forbearance.

I conclude reiterating that through speech we are energised into action but nevertheless WE DO WALK THE TALK.
SPEECH IS THE GIFT OF GOD TO MAN, SPEECH IS CIVILIZATION ITSELF.
EVEN THE MOST CONTRADICTORY WORD, PRESERVES CONTACT.
IT IS SILENCE WHICH ISOLATES.
MAN BEING A SOCIAL ANIMAL DIES WHEN HE IS ISOLATED.
SO LET US KEEP TALKING AND ENERGISING THE WORLD TO ACT.
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