Small Things –
It’s the small things that get us. A careless word, a roll of the eye, an exasperated sigh, a forgotten date, a critical comment when kindness would be better.
I spoke to a group of men this week about the importance of body language. It is estimated that 80% of our communication is done through hand gestures, facial expressions, posture, animated arms, and legs. Often, before even a word is said, we’ve said plenty. The “vibe” we give off from the way we stand, cross our arms, refuse to make eye contact gives messages of distance, frustration, and anger. Whatever our chosen words may be we’ve begun a conversation simply by being in the presence of others.
Small things can encourage or discourage dialogue. Tiny twitches can mean the difference between hurting someone’s feelings and lifting them up. Miniature motions can give away our opinion of another prior to us getting to know them.
I watched a video this week of a woman pontificating on Hillary Clinton and the rumor of the former presidential candidate. Her words were sharp and judgemental and her body language said even more. The spark of sarcasm in her eyes, the shaking of her head, the impish smirk, almost everything about her spoke of her disapproval. Toward the end of the video she spoke of love, forgiveness, and grace but nothing about her showed true humility, one sinner telling another where to find grace.
“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
This morning I overheard a conversation involving someone who was either incapable, unwilling, or had never been taught how to listen. He insulted the people around him, calling them; “idiots” and made sure he was the “Alpha Dog.” As I listened to him not listening, I thought about our culture and the many voices, personalities, activists, politicians (especially politicians), talk show hosts, pod-casters, television and music stars and others, who scream, pontificate and insist vehemently that their view of themselves, others, the nation and the world is the only correct one and any who might dare disagree should be consumed with ferocity.
We live in such an inflammatory time when it seems most burn with self-righteous indignation and personally justified rage. We yell, fight, accuse, condemn and never stop to look around and see what this incendiary atmosphere is doing to everything and everyone around us. People burn with hatred and fear rushing to fight whatever threatens their way of life. One life ignites another and another and another…
As I listened to this man I wondered if it’s too late to change and what would be left when the flames of ego, greed, foolishness and closed ears, burned us up and out.