On Conversations I’d Like To Have, or Thoughts in Dialogues

(Weegee)

I believe that there would be no conflicts (real or fictitious) in this world if men really knew how to talk to one another. Sometimes I’m thankful for not knowing how to dialogue because it makes everything much more interesting, it allows the very existence of a learning process itself, in other times our ignorance tires me and all I can think is that our relationships have no repair whatsoever. This experience acquired by the lack of dialogue is a symptom of this momentary fatigue and lack of hope, a discouragement that is part of (especially in the circumstances in which we’re living) the sensations constantly present in our routine. I have already mentioned “pollyanaism” sometimes in my writing, but as explanation, it’s a term derived from the children’s book ‘Pollyanna’, used by researchers and psychologists to describe a person who is overly optimistic and can’t really assimilate bad things of life — because, you see, of course seeing only good things is bad, very bad for our mental health. (And, please ignore the slight narcissistic tone in my affection for this eponymous book and all that relates to it.) In other words, badness can be good from time to time. The first time I understood this assertion was when my grandfather gave me a moral lesson about the importance of bees to the ecosystem — I was ten years old or so, had just been stung, and was cursing all the bees of the world, when my grandfather made me understand that I probably wouldn’t be alive were it not for the existence of bees. Tell fables to your children, my friends. Tell children about the things of the world, the sciences and the fantasies that men create, so that they can understand that freedom without knowledge is a false freedom, a true illusion. To have some knowledge is to be free — and if we begin to learn this even at an early age, we may be able to become adults capable of creating better dialogues.

I just can’t use my case as an example — and you can laugh because my upbringing is a real tragicomedy, I know. It’s just that life happens. Things happen and, together, they form an unique event that is life itself. Things were happening in my life that consequently led me on a path that made me waste all the golden learning on how to be a better person gained from great wise men of my family, such as my grandfather. It’s a complicated process because the more they teach a child, the more this child will need to have some demonstration, throughout this phase of life, of a stability in the conceptions that are taught to her. I confess I didn’t have this stability. But even so, I can tell you something useful — it was worth trying to infiltrate some good ideas in my mind, they have lasted and to this day are hidden from all my internal conflicts. Sometimes they win the battles, sometimes they are won over, but they are what keeps me standing to keep on the pursuit of character improvements. I repeat: we must tell fables to our children because they can fully understand the wickedness of wolves, the charity of ants and the importance of always telling the truth to their parents.

I don’t know if I’m an exception to the rule, if I’m part of the rule, or if there are simply no rules about it — the thing is, as I grew older and eventually became an adult, it was more difficult to maintain a healthy dialogue with people, without deceptions, false expectations and immoralities; it seemed to me, when I began to think about it, that people, especially the older ones, made no point, not even in cordiality, to maintain a certain idealistic tone, almost fantastic, on talking through a given importance to the reality itself of dialogues. Today I can say it freely because I see myself becoming one of those people — we cannot see beyond the “I” while we are talking to someone. Our dialogues have become so one-sided, uni-focused and disinterested in the constitution per se of the “I-you” (I use here the Buberian conceptions of the dimensions in which man experiences his own existence through our relations with things and other men — the latter having the striking feature of the reflection of the “I” in “you”), that it seems to me that we’re not able to hold a properly conversation with another person anymore. I won’t even attempt to get into more categorical points about dialogue in the political arena so that this essay doesn’t become one of these journalistic editorials that want to make us swallow the opinions of “graduated philosophers.” I just took this small space in this vast world of the internet to question myself and question you: do we still know how to talk? I can tell you, personally, that at least I try to relearn how to construct helpful, respectful and fluent dialogues with the people around me. I highlight the “I try” here.

Since I became aware of being a student constantly in need of learning everything that I can learn, in and out of school/university, I have made a very grotesque mistake when, in philosophy and related sciences classes, teachers question what makes man a rational being: I always respond that it’s his capacity to think and communicate. I’m not completely mistaken (though one teacher was once shocked by the shortness of my thinking), but as I now understand, man’s rationality goes beyond the pure existence of such capacities, reaching objectively the practical implementation of this communication. That is — we are rational because we live in a society with each other. What we can do now, however, is just ask ourselves, once again: do we know how to talk? Are we putting into practice, and in the right way, our capacity of communication? Stop for a while and think. Are we really rational?

Understanding the application of our ability to dialogue, in our routine, enables us to understand the genesis of everything we do, good or bad. The more I realize that my dialogue doesn’t come out specifically from within me, or it just runs over all those around me, the more I realize that a knowledge that imprisons me and a freedom that oppresses the other is worthless if I am not able to share this knowledge to free those who don’t know the warmth of the sun’s light and the calmness of the moon’s brightness.

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brazilian law and humanities student, reader, writer. proud latina.

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Poli Gomes

Poli Gomes

brazilian law and humanities student, reader, writer. proud latina.

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