A failure to communicate

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By Andy Uyboco

Freethinking Me

Friday, May 16, 2014


MY WIFE does not like drinking cold water. She likes her water slightly hot. When we eat out, she would usually ask the waiter or waitress for “warm water.” Sometimes they would get it right but there would be some instances when she would be served lukewarm or tepid water (at room temperature), or very hot water.

I pointed out that some waiters, especially those less proficient in English, probably equated warm with lukewarm and some of them equated warm with hot. So I thought the simplest solution then is to communicate in a way they would understand best. Instead of asking for “warm” water. Ask them for water that’s a bit hot (“medyo mainit” or “mainit-init”).

Then we would just laugh about it.

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A lot of disappointments and quarrels in life come from a simple failure to communicate. We insist on doing and saying things our way without considering the other person’s point of view, without thinking of how that person could possibly understand or misunderstand what we say. This is further compounded when the offended party does not try to clarify the situation, but rather stops communicating, and instead moans and complains to his friends about this arrogant fool who has so insulted him -- which leads to his friends telling their friends, and so on, until word reaches the other party and then a full-scale war breaks out -- a war which would have been easily prevented had one side simply reached out to the other and tried to really listen and understand the other’s point of view.

When I started writing this column a little over a year ago, I was aware that I would be ruffling a lot of religious feathers with my some of my irreverent thoughts. I had been writing long enough to know how people can easily bring their own biases into what they read, or take things out of context, or simply not understand and come to an incorrect conclusion. But such is the curse of writing.

If every writer waited until every sentence was perfect, and every word the exact one to use, no writing would ever happen.

Anyway, feathers were indeed ruffled and I heard bits and pieces from here and there, but I was glad when someone approached me and said, “Hey, we would like to hear and understand your side. We can set a time and place for you to just talk and we would just listen and ask clarificatory questions, if any.”

The meeting happened and I was able to make my position clearer (at least I hope so) and I was able to understand what some of them thought of that as well. The result was a clearing of the air and a better sense of respect from both sides.

I do not place much stock in astrology but it seems that my being a Libra always comes out in situations like this. I can go from one extreme to the other, but somewhere along the way, something in me tries to find a sense of balance. When I was a believer, I went beyond being a conservative believer to being a dancing charismatic, and then I began questioning that until I turned my back on belief. Then I went from being a quiet agnostic to openly quoting and supporting “militant” atheists, and now I am beginning to question that as well.

Amid the many texts I have read, I am convinced of one thing -- each side accuses the other of not really understanding, of taking things out of context, of creating straw men and fallacious arguments. It takes a lot of time and effort to wade through the various material and try to digest firsthand what is really being said by one side, then the other, and then try to make sense of it.

This column is not about convincing you to believe as I do. It never was. Rather this has been a way for me to organize and verbalize my attempt to search for and synthesize the truth, and I am allowing you to glimpse into my mind and see some of the stuff going on. You are more than welcome to contribute and comment. Hopefully, I’ve given something interesting for you to think about -- something worth the few minutes you’ve given to get this far.

Otherwise, what we have is a failure to communicate. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get a glass of warm water.

*****

Email the author at andy@freethinking.me. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 16, 2014.

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