A conversation is made up of two components: spoken words and silence. In order to actually have a conversation, one must listen as well as speak. That premise seems obvious, an idea that a three-year-old could convey. Lately though, a lot has been made of engaging in conversations with the indigenous people of Canada, but the reality is that those who are speaking have forgotten (or have failed) to shut up and listen.
Canadians like to think of themselves as polite, civilized people. The kind of folk who would hesitate to interrupt someone else when in conversation. Fair enough; everyone has a right to have their ideas heard and voiced. However there’s only so much politeness a conversation can bear. At some point, if one party doesn’t stop talking and start listening, then it’s no longer a conversation, it’s a monologue. One person or one group’s account and recollection, without room for the other side to be heard.
Politeness be damned. If the other side isn’t going to stop talking and start listening, you need to jump in and make your voice heard and hope that someone out there starts paying attention. I like to think that I’m among a small contingent who are embracing the opportunity to listen and reflect.
Last week, the Jerry Cans raised their hand and added their cover of The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead By a Century” to the conversation. This seems like the perfect time to put my money where my mouth is and shut up so that you can listen and reflect, too.