“We seek pitifully to convey to others the treasures of our heart, but they have not the power to accept them, and so we go lonely, side by side but not together, unable to know our fellows and be known by them” (W. Somerset Maugham).
ENDOWED WITH THE GIFT OF COMMUNICATION, BUT LIVING IN A BROKEN WORLD, WE ALL LONG TO KNOW WHAT PERFECT COMMUNICATION WITH ANOTHER PERSON MIGHT BE LIKE. No small part of the yearning that we experience in this world is this yearning “to convey to others the treasures of our heart.”
It is my personal belief that our ability to communicate, coupled with our deep desire to communicate perfectly, is a clue to our origin in the mind of a Personal God. In discussing heaven, for example, C. S. Lewis pondered the ultimate perfection of our desire to share ourselves: “For doubtless the continually successful, yet never completed, attempt by each soul to communicate its vision to all others . . . is also among the ends for which the individual was created.”
Yet even now, communication between human beings is a marvelous thing. For the time being, we engage in it imperfectly (and sometimes painfully, because of the imperfection), but we must never take the gift for granted or fail to use it generously.
Such a powerful ability can certainly do great damage if it is misused, so we must be careful. Neither fear nor frustration should be allowed to deter us. “Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid” (Dostoevsky).
Sydney J. Harris once wrote, “The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” I often think about that truth in these days of text messaging. Text messages are a convenient way of exchanging “information,” but they fail miserably at the level of “communication.” There has never been a time when we need deep communication more than right now, so we must not be content to simply exchange information.
When we communicate honorably, lovingly, and openly we do a greater good than if we just lived a good life. As powerful as our deeds and our example may be by themselves, we still need to communicate.
“Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows” (John Milton).