Friday, August 26, 2005

But What Do You Mean?

While we often say what we think, we rarely say what we mean.

Since emotion often dictates our word choice, we routinely resort to rhetoric instead of speaking in a civilized manner. The emotional rhetoric we use obscures the meaning we are trying to convey.

Sometimes two people arguing a contentious point are not arguing at all. Sometimes they are both essentially saying the same thing and it is only the language they use that sustains the argument and prevents them from recognizing all the areas in which they are in agreement.

Before we even open our mouths we need to be mindful of the need to speak words of civility; simple words that say exactly what we mean.

Speak simply and directly from your heart.

(Piaceszna Rebbe)


At August 26, 2005 at 11:40:00 AM EDT, Anonymous chabakuk elisha said...

OY - I know that I've fallen in that pit more times than I care to admit :-/

What I think happens is, that even when we argue about something important, our ego is right there and activated. We often try to say it's about principles or something like that, but it's usually all about the ego looking for blood. We've been challenged, our ego is offended - and it's on the prowl now.

I remember speaking to a guy about a religious matter (an eruv in BP), where he was completely overtaken by the issue. He was livid about this rabbinic disagreement, and he felt that anyone who disagreed with his point of view was really worthless. He would rant, rave, yell & scream until he was a bright shade of maroon.
I asked him why he's so worked-up about it, and he bellowed "Because I must stand-up for my Rabbi!"
I suspect that it was the ego, but we like to put a nice spin on it - so we blame "principle" or "the Rabbi" or "G-d."

It's funny - and it explains why - that sometimes it turns out that we agreed all along (but said it differently), but we were debating with all the gusto in the world.

I think the solution to the problem you've touched on in this post is that we need to refine our character. We need to work on our ego - if we had bittul, this (and virtually all problems of this nature) would be resolved instantaneously...

At August 26, 2005 at 12:27:00 PM EDT, Blogger J. Wendell said...

Shalom, good site! I am a big fan of keeping it simple.

At August 26, 2005 at 12:29:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

J. Wendell: Thanks for your comment! I appreciate the compliment.

At August 27, 2005 at 12:48:00 AM EDT, Blogger Pilot Mom said...

I agree that pride enters in to it quite often, as well as not really listening. So often people are formulating their response back before the other person has really even finished speaking.


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