I was watching the final show in season 3 of “Star Trek: Discovery”, ending the 13 show run with a quote from show creator and visionary Gene Roddenberry. It does seem a little trite to just repeat this quote, but everything these days is being bathed in a new light of what is happening around us. Which makes what he said one time, very long ago, seem to resonant with our times.
“In a very real sense, we are all aliens on a strange planet. We spend most of our lives reaching out and trying to communicate. If during our whole lifetime, we could reach out and really communicate with just two people, we are indeed very fortunate.”
We are, and have been for some time, a society where instead of communication, we have replaced it with screaming, bellowing, and this need to always be “right”. It seems to me we no longer really communicate. Facebook and Twitter are a big part of that, having irrevocably altered society, and not for the better. Still, anything used to communicate can become dangerous, only if we decide to use it that way.
Talk radio was the precursor to our current malaise. At one time it was about conversation, but thanks to those who used it as a bully pulpit, it hardened us all to believe that was the proper and meaningful way to converse. We convinced ourselves the only way to be heard was to weaponize speech, instead of civilize it.
Hey, we all have our moments. We’re human. We strike out, lash out, and there was a time when we would then reconsider our words and actions. We might even seek to repair the damage we had done. Personally, I’ve been on something of a quest of my own in the last few years, reaching out to people and apologizing for the rashness of youth. Most have accepted my invitation to reconnect. Some, sadly, have not. At the very least, I tried, something we might all consider as a course of action.
We should never stop having civil debates, discourses, even arguments. Those emotions force us to see things in a different light, and if we are smart about it, we then consider where the conversation has taken us. Perhaps, even to change our minds.
In her own way, my Mom was a brilliant communicator. She rarely wasted words. The tone of her voice and her facial expressions added to, and sometimes was the focal point, of her commentary. One thing she never, ever did, was to engage in a screaming match. Even when my infantile temper went off the scale, she kept her cool and waited until the temperature alleviated. Then, she would reengage, or wait until I came around to talk in a more civil manner. I rue the days I failed to learn those traits and messages.
The road before us is loaded with land mines, however I hope that as we struggle to make sense of it all, we might even learn to communicate again. Look, not everyone will get it. A lot of people will rail against it and continue on their verbally and textually destructive paths. The hope is they will begin, even at the smallest point, to become the minority. I hope that happens in the short life span I have remaining. I’d like to be here and see it.
So let us then seek not to talk, not to wantonly write, and certainly not to bellow at everything we disagree with. Let us at the very least consider a path of communication. Take a tip from Roddenberry, and try it with 2 people at the onset.
Who knows what might happen? And who knows what could happen if we don’t try.
Rock On, True Believers.