Dialogue through Monologue

Incarnate Me
If you had never met me, except through the words on this page, or another,
would that mean for you,
in the beginning was the word?
If you then met me, face to face,
would that mean for you,
the word became flesh?
If i then moved to your neighborhood or town,
would that mean,
I made my dwelling among you?
But what if, you never read this, or any other writing of mine?
Would that mean we’d never dialogue?
Would that make this only a monologue?
And if this were a monologue, then who are you but I?
The blogosphere has made a world of monologuers who are hoping desperately for people who are willing to listen. Even more so, it has brought new definition to the word becoming flesh. The capacity of individuals to leap from city to city, country to country, room to room, bed to bed all through digital technology has made a mess and a reality out relationship management. Many people seem desperate on getting people to listen to to their voice. It’s everywhere. And in many cases, like my blog for instance, there are endless posts where there are just no comments. Its almost as if…no one is listening.

But people are listening, and watching, and that’s part of the issue. In the world we live in today, I am not sure there is anything such as a monologue. Sure we like the illusion of the monologue, but in reality, whether we realize it or not, we are forcing dialogue.

I’ve entitled this post, dialogue through monologue because i am increasingly convinced that most people prefer the illusion of monologue to the reality of dialogue. In decision-making, in consensus building, in religion, in politics. It is almost as if many people, having been formed by the age of individualism, believe and say what they think is right such that they have no regard for the way that this information is giving shape to the world.

So what’s the point? The point is this, if, as Friedman suggests, The World is Flat, then we need to recognize the following(these are just a few ideas i sketched out):
1. Dialogue through monologue is not merely something that happens, but it is something we are responsible for- Every monologue we think we are having, is effecting the world around us! Yep thats right. There is no monologue that doesn’t give shape. C.S. Lewis once said (paraphrase) that he prefered the written liturgy of the church over the free liturgy of other churches because he knew what was coming in the written liturgy. He knew the parts he could give mental ascent to. He knew the parts he disagreed with. And he could participate as he chose. One of the most difficult things about the free market of idea exchange is the degree to which we have to ebb in and out of agreement with people who are giving shape to our lives. People are listening. We must be deliberate. We must speak with intention. We must recognize our words call people to both follow along, and agree or disagree all at the same time. Most of the time, this happens without any input from us.
2. The words we use reflect our willingness to pass through the monolgue-myth (i am talking and everyone is listening because I am worth listening to) towards active mono-dialogue (ie, we are deliberate that what we say gives shape, definition, and calls others to action)- I actually think i am ok with people sharing their opinions on things; however, the way we act in the web of the technological communications reflects a great deal. There are numerous bloggers who seem bent on stirring the pot of conflict. Who seem fixed on using this tool of connectivity as a means for defending what they think is the truth they possess. In these cases, the words they use: hurtful, vindictive, hateful, are not reflective of a posture of “active dialgoue”, but merely as the proverbial wooden soap box from which to preach. What we need today, is people wise enough to recognize the way through the myth that: “you are worth listening to”. We need people humble enough to enter into dialgoue with the posture of their words, not just their willingness to barge into any old “chat room” or “message board”.
3. At some point, we have to get out from behind our computers, and really talk to people face to face- The hardest part of the dialogue through monologue reality is that it is still so often dependant upon people sitting in different places around the world, out of real touch with one another. I still believe that the great influences on our life are the ones in greatest proximity to us. Now I agree, the way proximity has come to be defined has changed with technology; however, we are still humans. We are still unable to reproduce other humans through wireless internet..i think.. and we still need touch even from a small age. All this is to say, our most powerful mono-dialogues happen in proximity to the people with whom we live, work and play. It is the posture of the words we use with those closest to us that really forms. Maybe the internet is just a mirror we hold up to ourselves to think about the way we treat those we are in the greatest proximity to. And if I’m honest, i think some people need to hold that mirror up more often. Including me.

It was once said, all we need is love, love, all we need it love. And although i tend to be a skeptic from time to time, i do think we need to remember the basic need of many for love in our world. If we are able to start with love as the preamble to any and every monologue we create, maybe the dialogue that results will give a deeper, gentler, and more healing shape to those who actively choose to join us.

in the name of love…..joshua c