Why Can't We all Just Get Along?

By: David Snape


It seems that there must be some fundamental problem with human communication. Wherever you turn it is not hard to find people having an argument, a conflict or one person angry or frustrated with another for some reason. But why is it like that?

I think one of the key problems for us human beings is that our way of communicating through the use of language is very limited. When one considers that we all have a different picture in our minds of how things are and how they should be, it's a bit easier to realize the basis for so much conflict. The use of the spoken word and its lack of ability to fully convey meaning creates communication barriers for people.

For example, I have a picture about something in my mind. I try to convey that picture through words to another. That person must hear those words and then put them together into a picture in his mind. One problem lies in the fact that we create different pictures. The picture I started with might be entirely different than the one he has constructed from listening to my words.

Couple that with the way that many view life as a chess game, where they must out maneuver their opponent and one can see where problems creep in. Mistrust, greed, selfishness and paranoia are like weeds in our minds that we must exert conscious and constant effort to remove or risk unnecessary conflict, hurt and disappointment.

When two people talk to each other, these conflicting pictures or perspectives come into play. One person's words may be kind, compassionate and forged with good intentions. Yet, the person receiving the words may think that the other is being mean, rude, manipulative, overbearing, spiteful or any other of a number of negative factors. A conflict results based on false or partially inaccurate notions. Some conflicts are obvious. Others fester in the mind of a person and come out in passive-aggressive ways. In either case, these situations can make people miserable.

Another problem stems from the simple fact that for as many people as there are in the world, there are as many different levels of awareness of any given situation. Some may have more information to work with than others. I can't count the number of times when I thought things were one way, when in fact they were another. I can't count the number of times that I blamed someone for doing wrong when there was some factor that I wasn't aware of. A personís range of knowledge is limited.

Multiply that by all the people on Earth having similar experiences and it's easy to see how conflicts start. Is there a solution? It's difficult to say. Without having a basic communication form that stems beyond the use of the spoken word, communication is always going to be a quagmire of complexities between any two or more people.

I feel that the situation would be better if we had a way to communicate our entire mental picture at any given time to others, complete with the emotional background and the history of what made us get to that state of mind or perspective. That is far more information than the spoken language of human beings seems capable of conveying.

One thing is for sure, in order to rise above the limitations of human language one must employ a strong character, tempered with endurance and tolerance, along with compassion and a desire to get closer to the truth of any matter. Only then can one live more harmoniously with others.

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Dave Snape writes for All Things Pondered: AllThingsPondered.com

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