Lulu, my parrot, flew in and landed on my study table. He always uses this as his ‘airport’ I thought.
“What’s on Lulu?” I asked.
“Elections”, he said. “Everybody is talking about elections. Some want Modi to win, some want him to lose. Another group wants Rahul Gandhi to win, and there are others who want him to lose.”
“I remember the sixties and seventies. Nobody expected Congress to lose elections. But people gathered in large numbers to listen to the speeches of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He attacked the ruling party with his wit and humour. But there was not even a trace of ‘poison’ in his language. Dignified, it was.”
“I know what you are referring to. The current debate, if you can call it debate at all, is so bitter and vitriolic that all the parties have crossed the language of decency and respect.” Lulu drew my attention to the newspaper.
“Why do people use such language?”
“Hmmm…… you are asking ‘why do people use bad language.’ Let me think….. Oh, I guess they use it because it is the easiest language to use.”
“Easiest? Come on, what do you mean, Lulu?”
“They do not have to make efforts to understand the viewpoint of the other person. They can speak without it.”
“Are they afraid that they might get influenced partly by the view point of the other leader?”
“I think so. Yes, you got it right. They show the popular stance ‘There are only two opinions – my opinion and the wrong opinion.’”
“Think of a person who is ‘listening to understand.’ He gets influenced by the other. And then he is seen as a ‘dud’, as a person who has no point of view of his own.”
“This ‘one’s own point of view’ is also a phrase which is misunderstood and so damaging. Why don’t they say ‘studied view?’”
“I take your point. When we say ‘my point of view’ we imply having taken a position on an issue. We are not saying that it is after careful consideration, or study. Generally people take a position without studying the issue on hand.”
“There is a simple technique by which you can examine an issue. Say this aloud, ‘You are saying that….’. And then ask yourself aloud, “What could be another view or the counter arguments?” Go ahead and verbalise those arguments. That helps us to distance ourselves from the issue on hand. We can examine it like an object in hand. We do not have to be guided by our brain’s spontaneous reaction which comes out of our experience. It does not come out of our understanding of facts and multiple perspectives.”
“All conversations are deepened by a four step formula: Understand facts, then feelings, form opinions and then examine beliefs.”
“That’s the way to hold meaningful conversations. Deep conversations. But haven’t you heard of what Ralph W Emerson said?”
“He said, “Who you are speaks so loudly that I can’t hear what you are saying.””
“That’s a deep one. So we do not respond to what is being said, but who is saying it. That explains the RaGa-NaMo verbal duels to me.” Lulu tore the newspaper and flew away.
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”