Of all the pleasures in life…. I would have to say beyond any doubt that face to face conversation is the greatest pleasure of them all.
It is in the immediacy of face to face interaction in which you can really witness another person’s humanity which in turn reflects your own humanity.
The opposite to this is online communication. I believe that you have to be present in both body and mind …. in order to truly engage wholeheartedly in any conversation or debate and these last 2 months of quarantine have only served to strengthen my conviction.
In our online identities we are casually able to hide away and avoid any sense of urgency in our responses, thus not challenging the biggest muscle in our bodies … our brain.
It is by being under pressure and our words having a direct affect on our listener, in which we really develop emotional intelligence. We are forced to listen and react in real time, while simultaneously not being able to hide the involuntary reactions in our face, voice and body language.
This is why we feel under pressure when doing a speaking exam …. as we are given 1 minute to think before answering a series of unexpected questions with unprepared responses, by reaching out and clutching onto a handful of words per second. It is indeed an intellectual workout to be able to do so, while being physically observed at the same time by examiners or listeners.
It is also when in front of listeners both physically and intellectually that you are completely vulnerable to their rejection or approval. That is the risk you take when plunging yourself headlong into a debate.
The most interesting conversations are those in which the speaker is transparent in their thoughts and can openly speculate about the intricacies and nuance of each theme.
The worst conversations are those in which the listeners are always aloof with a sense of superiority or so cowardly afraid of what others may think of them, that all their opinions become redundant statements which have been reiterated time and time again by previous scholars; as this is not the true voice of the speaker but rather what the speaker thinks you want to hear in order to be liked.
So ….. be candid ….. bear your soul, because those who are more tolerant, intelligent and open minded around you, will receive your words with open ears and admire you for your candour, whereas those who are more reactionary among them will retreat into their shells, too afraid to speak their own truth. They shall continue to spend their lives living in emotional and intellectual fear.
If you wish to speak your truth …. then I look forward to debating with you in class, where participation equals acceptance.