Without Context, Life Can Be Drastic
By Kathy Custren
Without context, our world loses much of its meaning. There are shades of nuance that exist throughout the vibrational spectrum, that lend added definition, and some may say dignity, to life. In the absence of these sprinklings of understanding, we lose empathy; hardened to only to the extremes of what we see and hear.
Before we react to words, in anger, frustration, or even haste, let us stop to consider that there may be more to the picture. When something is bothering us and a caring person takes the time to stop to ask how we are, do we say how we really feel? "I'm fine," is the standard response to an often-un-standard inquiry. Deep down, we know the other person must have noticed something to make them ask in the first place.
Take, for example, the recent exhibit of Kathy Griffin and the image of her holding a "piñata" shaped like the severed head of President Donald Trump. This firestorm of incendiary controversy fueled social media for days. It enraged folks that such a prominent comedienne would "do such a thing." "What about the President's son?"
Yet, we might quickly forget that these images do not come about of their own accord. We see a well-constructed, highly colorful image designed to inflame. We overlook seeing effigies of President Obama strung from a tree, as if lynched. Surely, the young Obama daughters saw those images more than once while growing up in the White House. If not, kudos to the parents for keeping them insulated; my family saw them.
It is not all that easy to stand in front of a crowd and tell a joke, let alone one that makes an impact. Today's comedians work in a realm of multiple layers of subtleties. These nuances are sometimes lost in the muddled fields of politics, with distinct lines drawn or where ideologies shift periodically.
Would Alec Baldwin's portrayal of President Trump be any less on-point if he played it before the election? Would it even be on our radar? What of those joking about President Clinton's use of the word, "is?" At face value, does everything have a double entendre? The Taijitu says this is the case.
Knowing when to apply nuance, subtlety, or context can be important. Stringing along past experiences within the present moment, with an eye toward future influence, is part and parcel of human communications, rightly or wrongly. These aspects to life are often the difference in knowing what syllable to emphasize when saying, "I love you." It is said that persons with autism often lack the ability to know when people are making jokes or when words operate as idioms, because they may not read the same social cues as many of us. Without context, we may take words at face value alone and fall into this category.
Likewise, the many news reports, memes, and other things we see in the media today. As people work hard to get our attention, we do need to be cognizant of the many layers of understanding and misunderstanding that can occur with communicative awareness. Can we convey context with text alone, or with one limited view? When it comes to freedom of expression, who is to say?
Those of us with a skill to fully explain the subtle differences can add shading where needed. However, it behooves us to do such applications wisely. Many colors of the experiential rainbow avoid our spectroscopy. It does not mean these shades do not exist; only that our ability to fully sense and comprehend them is limited. This is true where culture or politics draw such distinct lines, or where the fruition of mindful speech comes into play.
So, when it is reported, and even fact-checked with precision, that someone has said something controversial, we must take it with a grain of salt. It can be important to consider the many underlying meanings. Allowing for such context increases our measure of empathy and understanding. As part of The Conundrum, it is ironic that we lose context in using text. In allowing for the rights and wrongs of our world, this becomes a very important touchstone for us all.
About the Author
Kathy Custren, OMTimes Magazine Senior Editor, is a mother who strives for balance with a deep respect for all. Interests include education, elements, nature, humanity's cosmic origins, philosophy, spirituality, and wellness. Connect with "Consciousness Live" on WordPress and the community page "Consciousness Live" on Facebook. Read more at Mindblogger: http://kathyc-mindblogger.blogspot.com