“There is no substitute for sincerity, even when the words are not those you want to hear.” – Anonymous

WHO DOESN”T have a cellular phone these days? Or who hasn’t at least heard of the lightning-quick exchange of information on the Net? Communication has been so enhanced by technology and yet, as the editors of the Ford Foundation Report write in their spring issue, “the most constructive and creative forms of human communication have nothing to do with video screens, computers, and satellites,” but “occur one on one, face to face, among individual people”. And while it is the most basic and instinctive form of communication, it is often where we fail.

Just imagine if for a greater number of your years you have kept to yourself and the onslaught of circumstance suddenly compels you to open up and be intimate with persons or, especially, just one. Not that you don’t want to open up, but it is difficult to say what you wish to say.

I should know. I’m guilty of it. There was a time when my mouth was shut most of the time, and I kept my saliva from getting stale only when I needed to talk, which was and is not often, and to eat or drink.

Pathetic, you say? Well, yes and no. Yes, from the perspective of most. No, because I really enjoyed the quiet calm of silence, of aloneness. Nothing and no one could bother me. I minded my own business and kept to myself. Hey, people also go into retreats. I guess you can say I was the junkie of those.

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But then you come across persons who sooner or later become significant faces out of a faceless crowd. And later still you find out that you are starting to care for them, and when you’re lucky, you fall in love. And this is usually where the speech trouble begins.

When you try to talk, words run away with mocking smiles and tongues rolled out, leaving you with convenient if hanging phrases like “wala lang” and “yun”. The funny thing is, and this is where my introduction comes in (did you really think that it had no connection with this writing?), in front of a computer monitor or holding a cellular phone, you are both eloquence and creativity incarnated. May kasamang graphics pa yan.

As I see and experience, when two or more people close to one another have squabbles brought about by incessant mood swings, they try to talk it out but can’t, but suddenly get struck by inspiration after parting and say things over the phone.

What sort of protection and assurance does communications technology provide without which we just can’t seem to lay our feelings bare? What truth and sincerity, compared to when person is naked before person, without the armor of anonymity in between? Does communications technology really enhance communication? By enhance I mean purify and clarify, and by those I mean remove the cobweb of obscurity of meaning. The unfortunate answer is, hardly. The enhancement ends at facility.

I ask these questions because again, I am guilty of being Mr. Articulate on the phone, and I want really to learn to really talk to people whom I have grown to love and care for.

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Maybe it’s difficult because I was a loner once. Maybe the persons I try to talk to were. Whatever the reasons, I feel I must learn listen to and to speak my mind and heart, read and be read, on a personal basis, without the protective gear.

The FFR editors used “constructive” to describe this sort of communication. And why not? It is the kind that builds real and lasting relationships.

Prayer: God, Father almighty, we praise and adore you. We recognize your presence in our brothers and sisters, but sometimes our failure to communicate effectively our feelings and sentiments causes the severest of rifts. Help us then to reach out to those who are thrown to a distance by our own flaws. Give us presence of mind and openness of heart, as we try to become one under your grace. Amen.

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