A Useful Metaphor

Posted: June 9, 2010 in Personal Growth

I have decided to make a comparison to your and my worlds; and help us understand why we have so much trouble understanding each other’s points of view.


Envision, if you will, a ship on the sea and a submarine cruising below the surface. Neither can really see each other because of the limits of sight because of the murky waters. The only way either craft can perceive each others’ presences is by artificial means. Both have a kind of sonar. Sonar is an acronym for Sound Navigation and Ranging. It is either active — when either ship sends out a sound "ping" and receive an echo from the other. By measuring the time it takes for the ping to leave the ship, bounce of the other ship, and get back we can measure the distance. We can also make a device that determines where the other ship is. Then there is passive sonar. This relies entirely on the sounds the other ship makes. By listening and translating sounds we can determine all the information we get from active sonar and much more. We can get a sense of what the other ship is made up of. If either ship is silent it becomes a much bigger job to determine anything about the other ship. Over the years the Navy has developed very sophisticated electronics that interprets the sounds received and they can tell a lot more about the other ship than when sonar was first developed.


Do you see how this relates to human relationships? If we say something to another person that is intended to get a response we can get some information. If we only listen we probably can get more information; but it relies on translating what the other person says to make any sense. It is only by improving our ability to translate what the other person says in the context of our own understanding of the world that we can hope to really understand the other person’s point of view.


When you send me e-mail messages and I respond you get a sense of my perspective; but only if you accurately translate what I say. The same goes for me sending you an e-mail and getting a response from you. Of course the more information we get — often from outside sources — the better we understand what the other person is saying. If we only listen (read) silly sources they become like noise and lend little good for our understanding the other person. It is only by studying what the other person says (other than the noise from other sources) can we hope to understand each other.


If you will take the time to read the factcheck.org article from this link: http://www.factcheck.org/2008/03/that-chain-e-mail-your-friend-sent-to-you-is-likely-bogus-seriously/, you will get a better understanding of why so many of the chain e-mail messages you send me aren’t worth our time. I took a long time responding to your last message like that. If you don’t take the time to compare my points to the points in the factcheck article you can’t hope to understand anything about the political process. If you only listen to noise, what do you get?


I don’t know how much sleep you get or the quality of it. I can only hope you keep a keen mind and a good understanding of what is going on by having quality sleep. If you don’t wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go you really should consult an expert on sleep to improve your sleep. I notice a decided difference between when I get enough sleep and when I don’t. I hope you do as well.


Often you say you are tired and have to get some sleep. If you only read my messages when you are tired I think you can have no hope of understanding my point of view.


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