Friday, October 2, 2015

Meaningful Conversation Depends upon Sincere Caring

 There are many things that work against the social connectedness, available through conversation. Sherry Turkle identifies “shared solitude” as one way to recover it:

·       Shared solitude grounds us. It can bring us back to ourselves and others. For Thoreau, walking was a kind of shared solitude, a way to “shake off the village” and find himself, sometimes in the company of others… these days we have a new kind of village to shake off. It is most likely to be our digital village, with its demands for performance and speed and self-disclosure. (“Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age”)

But even for Thoreau, the woods often weren’t enough. Turkle admits that:

·       Even Thoreau became distracted. He got upset that when waling in the woods, he would sometimes find himself caught up in a work problem. He said… “The thought of some work will run in my head and I am not where my body is – I am out of my senses… What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods.”

For me, a walk in the woods by itself is not enough to get my mind off the pressures of life. I can only leave my concerns behind if I know that I am engaged in something that transcends my concerns. Only prayer can do this. Only when I place these worries into the hands of the only One who can resolve them, can I feel freed-up enough to enjoy the woods.

Nevertheless, Turkle concludes:

·       Even if Thoreau’s mind did sometimes travel to work or village, he accomplished a great deal on those walks… These days, we take many walks in which we don’t look at what is around us, not at the scenery, not at our companions.

She recommends that through “shared solitude”:

·       We can practice getting closer to ourselves and other people.

Although I agree with Turkle about the need for solitude and reflection, reflection alone does not seem to be the answer. Hitler had reflected seriously in writing Mein Kampf. However, his reflections were not founded on the right presuppositions – a love for all humanity. Consequently, his whole thought life had been perverted.

Why is it that we have so much trouble with this four-letter word called “love?” Our fears and desires control us. How then do we break free from their grasp? By knowing that there is an omnipotent God who loves us and will take care of us better than we can, and for all eternity!

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