I’ve always liked John Dickerson. He is, as others have said, a voice of reason. He certainly proved it when he was selected to fill the un-fillable shoes of Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation. His segment, Reporters Notebook, is like having a real conversation except you’re not in the room. His approach is a comforting break from the perpetual numbing affect of the “In Your Face” exchanges that seem to dominate the airways, cyberspace, or even across the dinner table. Why is this? Well, it is certainly nothing new.
For the most part, human beings have always been like this. To varying degrees, and at different times, people can be just a bunch of hotheads. For these individuals, there is no intention in having a conversation. It can be illustrated through the common occurrence of simultaneous rapid fire monologs where and when everyone is talking passes for an actual discussion. It’s more like multiple self-righteous speech making from the pulpit. No one listens. No one hears. It just becomes noise.
For whatever reasons, it seems to be getting worse. Sure the constant bombardment of traditional and social media has a lot to do with it but it seems like there is something more. I’m guessing that our unlimited access to information has made us armchair, and to varying degrees, arrogant experts in almost everything. Access to 30 second sound bites and snippets from only those that we are in agreement provide nothing more than one sided superficial opinions; opinions that are being passed along as knowledge. It may be argued that there are those that feel they are the human manifestation of the Encyclopedia Britannica. If this contention is true, it is no wonder that we are becoming less capable of true discourse. Why do we need to converse with anyone else? We already know everything. Whether highly educated or not, one should intrinsically know that It takes a whole lot of time and effort to be truly knowledgeable in anything. Even more importantly, we need to hold an open mind. John Dickerson clearly addresses this. It means taking the time to actually listen. It means being willing to keep the lower jaw from moving. Truly, there are those that ask questions with the sole intent of just validating their own beliefs, or playing the I gotcha game. You know the ones–those without time or grade that know more about your professional experiences than you do. Or, how about the so-called friend that finishes your sentences for you, “What you really meant to say is—-.”
All in all, these traits have made many of us just plain rude, just plain disrespectful. It is a rudeness that has incrementally become acceptable in our society. We cross boundaries of human exchange that used to be considered unacceptable. If keeping an open mind to the ideas of others is a prerequisite to adult conversations then we certainly need to remind ourselves that everyone deserves to be treated the way we ourselves expect to be treated. Thanks John for the reminder.