Friday, September 26, 2008

Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas

In the beginning…

There were the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates, which won Honest Abe the White House. Oh, wait a minute – they weren’t for the presidency, but for the Senate from Illinois, and he lost. Douglas spoke for an hour; Lincoln for an hour and a half; then Douglas for another half-hour. That’s three hours with no commercial breaks and nothing on the other channels. Most likely, there was also nothing else happening in town that night, or maybe on any night.

You couldn’t get people these days to watch Sarah Palin in a see-thru top for 30 minutes, let alone three hours. We’re into quick-speak and quick-reply. At least our two friends, up there in paragraph one, had plenty of time to develop their arguments. When you are running for a major office, you can’t explain your stand on an equally major matter in just two or three minutes.

It’s like cooking a roast in a microwave.

But our attention span is short and even’s articles have the main points up top so you don’t have to read the entire short piece. It takes time to say something fully and without interruption and it takes maturity to let someone talk their idea out and not jump in at the next comma to object. Not only is there an art to speaking well; there is also an art to listening, and listening well.


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