Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Can I have a word?

My stepfather used to say that it seemed I had been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.  (You remember, those machines that played flat discs larger than CD's that made music and the occasional story.)  He meant that I seemed to speak often.  You may realize that it isn't considered manly in some circles to talk very much.  The manly man acts and doesn't need or use spoken words much.  Sylvester Stallone exemplified the idea when the beautiful Vietnamese woman saved his life, shooting his nasty guards to death and leading him to freedom and safety.  He muttered,"What you did back there: Thanks."

The motto of the state of Maryland translates "Manly deeds, womanly words" but to be less sexist, is sometimes rendered "Strong deeds, gentle words."

In reading about changes in the world that brought us into the current era, communication by several means and the emergence of public and social media of communication stand out.  Communication and its relatives, persuasion and advertising, especially rapid communication and effective persuasion, can have a big effect on what we think and do.  A friend wrote this morning about the battle of New Orleans being fought after the war ended because the combatants were unaware of the peace agreement.  American politics and the lives of many families changed because of the slow speed with which information could be sent.

When you speak within my hearing, provided I am paying attention, your words may affect my ideas, my plans, my emotions.  If I love you or fear you, you may have an immediate effect on my mind and my actions.  But even if I don't know you, your statement of the quality of a certain brand may guide my spending.  Maybe it won't be until I hear some other statement or see an ad, that I decide that brand is what I want.  Your endorsement may have tipped the balance or initially alerted me to that brand's value.  Modern methods enable me to hear your voice and see you speak after you have died or when you spoke or wrote long ago.

We may be fascinated with strength but everyone finds that the pen is mightier than the sword, that words of alliance, of team-building, of inspiration are required to unify large groups and carry out big projects.

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