Definition, Please

While out recently, I managed to find myself in an attempted discussion.

Attempted discussion (noun): a valiant effort at initiating conversation in which viewpoints, most often opposing, are rationally and equally shared by only one of multiple parties, the other(s) engaging in primate behavior to prove dominance on the topic at hand

Unfortunately, this person has made clear that they have strong feelings of superiority towards me, whether that’s a gender or age thing or possibly a perceived higher intelligence, I haven’t yet been able to determine due to the frequent verbal obstacles. In addition to suggesting that anything beyond polite, but shallow conversation, with these people is a test of patience I’m normally unwilling to embark on, it made me consider my writing. As a writer, I’m quiet, careful, taking purposeful, calculated steps, as to avoid seeming too vulnerable, too honest, or, what I consider the worst of a writer’s fate, too self-important.

I find it difficult to justify my own blogging, as it seems publishing your thoughts with the idea that they are of importance to others is about as self-important in reasoning as one could get, so I don’t. And then I do. And then I don’t again. A vicious cycle that will undoubtedly only cease with either me or the internet.

My re-motivation this time was that attempted discussion. It was a frightening prospect that it is the loudest that are listened to simply because they are the only ones that can be heard. At what point in collective history, did it become more appropriate to be boisterous and more willing to ignore arguments than to engage in quiet, thoughtful listening followed by an intelligently processed rebuttal? Of course that’s a ridiculous proposition. There have always been adages about squeaky wheels and we all know that most enduring fodder is created at the expense of the most obnoxiously volumed guy at the bar.

Last week on CNN there was a headline about Clarence Thomas speaking for the first time on the bench in seven years. One could successfully argue that Thomas has learned a valuable lesson about opening his mouth, but consider the seven years of bullshit he’s probably heard from lawyers. And he didn’t say anything. I’m sure he had humorous,  probably inappropriate, internal dialogue and imagine the notes scribbled on his legal pad. The fact that this made headlines because he OPENED his mouth says a lot.. I don’t remember seeing an ongoing Clarence Thomas-oration watch in the seven previous years.

I’m not pretending to know that if Thomas spoke daily in those seven years that his insights would be thought-provoking or worth contribution, but if not speaking gets you a headline, maybe this is the route that more of those with the need to be heard should take.

Maybe it’s as simple as shutting up.

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