Humans communicate with misunderstanding
The Jan. 4 Saturday Gazette-Mail got me thinking once again of how different life would be if we could be born, grow, learn facts, mature and go about our business with certainty, instead of struggling in this frustrating world of opinions and perspectives, misunderstandings, and perhaps even alternate realities?
When people (such as newspaper editors) speak, we can be forgiven for believing that they understand their language and say what they mean, and that we understand the common language well enough to "get it," if not agree with it. Misunderstanding is a characteristic of human communication, even at its best, just as nuances and creative descriptions and ulterior motives are characteristics of human expression. This is true in all cultures, in all ages, in all of us.
For example, the editor reports that on the subject of how many believe in evolution, "Out of 34 nations surveyed, America ranked 33rd, ahead of just Muslim Turkey." Does this imply that Muslims are less scientific in their understanding than other people? Surely they are not. Why attach the word "Muslim" at all except to insult Islam? Surely this is not intended.
Well, there is also a list of "Smiles and Scowls" on the Opinion page today, in which a Scowl is awarded to "bigots who spray painted slurs on an Islamic Mosque in Princeton." I scowl at them too, and I applaud the editor for pointing out this bigotry.
I used to think that when I am gone, the scratches on my tombstone should read "The worst I had was wonderful," or Mark Twain's astute observation, "Heaven for Climate, Hell for Company." But now I think it should just say, "Earthlings, please forgive me, I misunderstood."
And again this year my New Year's prayer is "Dear God, please deliver me into the company of those who seek the truth, and away from those who think they've found it."