Direct or indirect communication?

When I was a child you knew what hate was, there was kind of a line, not a blurred line, but a for real line.

Racism was alive and well, it wasn’t hidden or disguised with pretty word salad articles that danced around the subject, but full on name calling, white robe, hanging tree, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, every derogatory name for every color of person,  fist pumps in the air kind of racism.

If a child did something wrong they were usually hit, in one way or another, and no apologies for it.

Teachers used threats, intimidation, and humiliation as a methodology for correcting behaviors, or personalities they found difficult for the classroom.

Animals were hit, turned out, dumped, abused, and while this still happens today, way back when, not too many people batted an eye at it.

Women were far from equal. Sexual harassment in the office place was alive and well, and expected. Dirty old Insurance men drunk at Christmas parties, feeling up the children was tolerated, and a perverted Uncle was simply a perverted Uncle, everyone understood who was who.

Things, looking back, seemed pretty real pretty raw. Right or wrong, you did not misinterpret any gesture, word, message, or written thought, it meant what it meant. Scary, unsafe, choose carefully kind of time, sometimes.

And that leads me to today, this year, this time in the world where things seem a bit mucked up in so many ways.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear line for much anymore, yet it all still exists, I think ‘political correctness’ kind of did that actually. Don’t judge, don’t be too offended, don’t think to hard, don’t feel too much, forgive, move on, agree to disagree, don’t speak about religion and politics in public, oh no no no, hate is SO out of fashion. Yet it all still exists.

And so you enter situations or conversations, maybe an e-mail, or a phone call, and sometimes it is hard to tell what the real meaning of the message is. The ability to connect in a real way is hard to find sometimes.

Racism is still here, but it is disguised in this insidious rhetoric, then wrapped in some religious bullshit, and then reimagined into something so distracting and confusing, you think you just ate a purple pumpkin or something. You know the gesture is hate, but the sentiments say otherwise.

Women being treated as if they still are inferior, animals treated as if they are less than a living being, dirty old men are still a dime a dozen, but it is no longer clear, the distractions are too great, and the word salad so jumbled, you forget what the focus was anyway. Pancakes, yes lets make pancakes.

And then there is the leave an anonymous something or other, or gesture as if you have been privy to a private conversation, or mention an intimate detail that you shouldn’t know, or pantomime intimidation bbbuuuuttttt not really… you may have misinterpreted that, and the ever so lovely slowly leaking threat, but in such a way as to only be confusing and second guessing and not understanding that they are really threats. Because we are evolving. Yes dammit, we are evolving.

Humans spending their lives in such a way, are so confusing to other humans, and damn near impossible for other living being to understand.

Enter the blurred lines era. Up from down, left from right, front to back, it means nothing any longer. Spying, tracking, covertly listening, stalking, saying one thing that really means another, gesturing safety when it is far from it, using fear tactics as a go-to, because fear simply has more traction than facts or knowledge, intimidation, humiliation, and division. But we are all good, honestly. Wait, what, where is that line? Was there even a line, did I miss it, am I understanding this?

Is this truly evolving or have we been so distracted by what others want us to do and think, that we are actually in a state of devolution?

My own species confuses me sometimes, most of the time.

After working with dogs for so long I have found, it is the most comfortable, honest, and tangible form of communication I have. No bullshit, no games, no secret threats, no hidden agendas, no dancing around hate, or masking gestures. It is what it is. Good, bad, or indifferent. Dogs respond to me and I respond to dogs on the most primal form of connection, being open to one another. It doesn’t mean we become best friends, but it does mean we connect at the core, no misunderstanding. Perhaps that is the true gift dogs have given me.

Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

If we could all learn from other living beings, about honest communication, connection, and living together, we would all be better off.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Beautifully stated Nancy and all true.

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      thanks Cassandra … I’m just now getting back into the swing of writing after a bit of a break. Nice to see your name ~ Nancy

  2. Pam Perry says:

    Nancy–I love this article and feel fully reinforced with my own ideals around this subject (you actually cover several areas of “elephant in the room”).

    I am in tune with your relationships to our animals (dogs, goats, ducks…), and am so encouraged to hear your signature articulation of the actual value animal relationships play out in our lives if we just open our minds. Like dogs, my familiarity with horse, in my experience, offer nothing but pure, organic honesty. I have always wished we could skim the fat off our hubris and remain as down to earth as a human can manage (or achieve, I should say), and aspire to be more vulnerable.

    Cudos to you for such an authentic, no over-use of words essay. I think you need to submit it to a large newspaper Opinion section and see what falls.

    Thanks always to your ability to say what we need to hear-

    1. Nancy Tanner says:

      Pam, thank you for what you are doing and learning for your new R.O.U.S. – a spicy fun adventure to be certain – Nancy

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