Magpie perching on a broken branch

Voices within cultural life

With all the voices talking at us each day, where exactly are they coming from? Which of these are voices from within our own society, as opposed to those speaking out of other societies with all of their own unique, complex, interwoven realities? Which are political, economic or social voices and which are using the symbolic language of culture itself? And, if all this is now “one” conversation, what’s that going to mean?

At times it seems we’re all listening to and immersed in one another’s cultural conversations: all those varied voices weaving their way through all of our lives, distant and unrelated as they may be. As if “all this” enfolds us in a new, overlaying conversation we’re letting affect us in ways we mightn’t even imagine. (Notes One)

If “all that we listen to” is what’s serving to inform us about our lives, the lives of others, and life in general on this planet, what’s likely to come of this strange interblended communication? Where one country’s political battles spill over into quite different discussions the world over. Words and images being exchanged without the luxury of clear lines or insight as to what the topic being addressed might really be.

Isn’t conversation already complicated? Finding all the fine lines between what’s said, meant, concealed, known or denied. Understanding what’s really happening beneath the veneer of words, within the inner chambers of each person’s mind. How are we to know what any individual meant to communicate? What they hoped to gain from planting seeds of doubt. Also, what others might be taking away from this. (Notes Two)

How are we to navigate a world of everyone’s concerns voiced at once? Where comments related to the specific conditions that’ve evolved within one country become words spoken on the global stage. Where we appear to be having “one” conversation but the realities we’re each referring to might be subtly or significantly different.

Almost as if we’re all potentially talking at crossed purposes: some fighting political battles; some advancing social causes; some seeking economic advantage; some looking for examples of how to live; some preferring symbolic representations of our various human struggles. All these interests coming together in one fractured, confusing conversation.

What are we to take away from that? Aside, perhaps, from frustration that all those concerns might be drowned out by a completely ineffective way of dealing with them. Could it not be that, in reality, none of those conversations are actually happening? That nothing’s truly being addressed while all these things we rightly care about are being deflected by others’ equally valid concerns. A sort of conversational stalemate. (Notes Three)

If each person or country’s conversation is a projection of their interests and concerns, what does it mean if that’s billowing into a place where little gets received as it’s intended? If there’s little true listening or mutual recognition of whatever issues, wounds or struggles have emerged from that entity’s past. Instead of being resolved, wouldn’t things just linger?

Notes and References:

Note 1: Culture as information
Note 1: The stories that we hear
Note 1: Tuning out the static
Note 2: Diplomacy and knowing where we stand
Note 2: Do “the lies” blind us to truth?
Note 2: Going towards the unknown
Note 3: Anger, and where we direct it
Note 3: Can there be beauty in communication?
Note 3: Seeing where others are coming from

Ways to share this: