Context is always at risk of misinterpretation, unless you are one person who knows exactly what you mean.
What we say, what we write or what we do in our interactions with others can always be viewed in at least three ways.
Until very recently, it was usually the third party to any experience or event which would be the best bet on introducing forgiveness and understanding when something was misunderstood or taken badly by either key party, whatever the circumstances happened to be in between.
Not only seeing, but respecting the reality of a bigger picture is something that in conversation, experiences and life in general, older generations once took for granted.
Young people, or ‘millennials’, as our unforgiving media as now branded them, are unlikely to recall the time when there was an alternative, yet unspoken rule. An acceptance that hanging reality upon just a word or a sentence wasn’t an appropriate call.
Communication was a sum game. Understanding something was all about the way that the words are said. Where and when they had been used. The backdrop which stood behind them and a whole picture made up of many different things, which together added up to something different.
The truth is often much greater than the sum of all parts and usually much much more.
Today we experience and endure something completely different. A selective form of deliberate, yet increasingly conditioned non-understanding. A way to make anyone or anything we disagree with well and truly wrong, in an attempt to unwittingly mislead others and influence the way that other people will think.
Culturally we are now attuned to look for anything that’s wrong with any point of a message, no matter how isolated it might be. We do so, rather than hearing and making a conclusion upon the content of all of that message, where determining our interpretation of the outlook or principle, and whether the direction of travel might provide a meaningful level of insight.
This is not even the preserve of the amateur, uneducated or unskilled.
Even writers, journalists and opinionators, the professional wordsmiths are now closed in their reasoning when it comes to studying the words, social media interactions, and interviews of the people that the truly objective would know better than to despise.
They do so not for the measure of the content, but for the mix of words which can be used to wrong the speaker, who will often have blundered into this trap unwittingly, no knowing they have fallen into an elephant trap built with malevolence which will soon revisit them in the form of a very dark surprise.
This habit has already destroyed careers. It has been used to change discourse. To eliminate realities which would benefit us all. It has become little more than a lesson in how to become professionally mean.
The opposite of this behaviour was once known freely as the Principle of Charity. And we would all do well to refresh ourselves with what the Principle of Charity actually means.
For when the time comes that we find ourselves on the receiving end of this cultural malaise which builds its own truth in a place where the genuine story has never been, we may wish that we ourselves could be in receipt of the benefit of the doubt from others. To be understood for what we have offered the world as a whole and honest picture. Rather being the target of someone’s else’s reason for being and becoming the focus which they need to apportion their own blame.
Change has the appearance of being hard, where once the first step is taken it becomes easy. Instead of looking for change to come from others, we have to accept that genuine change comes from within.
We can begin by treating each other, as we would wish to be treated ourselves.
It may require a little more thinking, but it soon feels good and we quickly remember that the opportunities are available in every situation where everyone can walk away, having bagged a genuine win.