For the first time (I believe) in the 87-year history of Vital Speeches of the Day magazine, its editor and publisher saw fit to publish a speech he himself had delivered. Yes, it’s my October speech to the Public Relations Society of America, titled “Communication Isn’t Helping. Why Not?”
Well, our longtime printer’s rep read the speech, which draws heavily on my book. With her over the years, I have exchanged warm and enthusiastic personal correspondence (mostly on the cold weather in the remote American outpost where the printing plant is located). I once visited the plant and we had a warm rapport. But we’ve never talked politics, or anything like it.
She wrote me last week:
I just had to email you to let you know I can’t wait to read your book, An Effort to Understand: Hearing One Another (and Ourselves) in a Nation Cracked in Half. After I read the transcript of your speech in the latest issue of VSOTD, I went right to Amazon and put the book in my cart. Maybe someday you might sign it for me? 😉
WOW, this speech really grabbed me! I am not a speechwriter or even a very good writer (just ask my high school journalism camp mentors or college profs), but I do have a deep respect and interest in what you all do as communicators! I looked up that speech by Bobby Kennedy on YouTube and listened to it. Thinking about where we are in today’s culture vs. 1968, just makes me so sad. I feel like in so many ways we, as a society, have done everything BUT dedicate ourselves to “taming savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.” I do think, though, in my own life, I try very hard to be a good communicator by really listening to others, show empathy and work toward solving problems, not create them.
Currently, I am grieving the loss of my parents to the Trump Cult. They are older (Dad – 84 & Mom – 80) and both so tuned into Fox News, Newsmax, etc. that they have lost the capacity to listen to any other ideas or concepts. They are also both so angry with the world now as well which makes it very hard to want to spend time with them. They would tell you America is a police state with a government ruling us by fear, we’ve lost all that is American, blah, blah, blah. These are the same people who raised three pretty intelligent kids by teaching us to listen to both sides of a story in order to make an informed opinion about anything. Our parents have lost their capacity now to listen or even be good humanists. It’s heartbreaking for us, as their children, to watch this decline. The good news, I guess, is that the three of us kids are very close and we communicate very well with each other, especially when it comes to how to deal with Mom & Dad.
Anyway, I so enjoy reading and, of course, producing VSOTD for your organization! Plus, ya’ll are just stellar folks! Keep communicating—people out there are listening…..I am one of them!
That’s it! Each of us is grieving the loss of living people. Not just by the millions, but by the ones and the twos, some of the very most important people in our lives.
We are good at agreeing to disagree, at avoiding topics at Thanksgiving dinner, at focusing on areas of agreement. But it hurts us that we have to. Hurts us bad. And hurts and hurts and hurts and hurts, over and over and over again.
And so we’re all terribly upset, as we should be. We express our sadness in anger.
But we’re not angry, primarily. As she said:
“It’s heartbreaking for us, as their children, to watch this decline.”
And as their brothers and sisters, friends and fellow citizens.
Let’s embrace the sadness, perhaps to temper the madness.