As I embark into my sixth decade, I am realizing that there are certain things I really need. I prided myself for many years in being able to thread a sewing machine needle without my Dollar Tree cheaters. Evidently from the text I sent my daughter last night – “I unlicked doir” – I need my glasses all the time for reading, writing and arithmetic (especially since I’m in accounting). Last week, a friend of the family sent up a distress Facebook post needing prayer for the final weeks of her MA program. It was late, but I wanted to chip in my support, which I did with this message: “Im peaying, habg in ghere. So olose.” I checked the comment in the morning – oh snap – she’s gonna think I’m drunk, that’s not what I wanted to communicate. I added a comment which translated the above sentiment and assured her I was not intoxicated in any way, just forgot my glasses. She responded with a hearty laugh emoji. Without my glasses, miscommunication events will likely happen again, especially when I’m depositing money into offspring accounts, so I better keep them close.
Now the above comment was ridiculous, but miscommunication can have other outcomes, other effects. My sister and I were at my parents’ house one day. Standing at the kitchen counter, we were engaged in a serious and riveting conversation about what we all discuss in the kitchen: hemorrhoids. Who knows who the afflicted one was, but our conversation covered causes, symptoms, side effects and various and sundry methods of treatment. My mother entered the kitchen while we discussed the burning, itching and pain. She listened for a bit. And, in a humph, she pronounced her expert therapeutic remedy: “Just put a little Vaseline on it; and, for Pete’s sake, stop licking it!” Yes, miscommunication at its most humorous. No, Mom, we’re not talking about cold sores.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when miscommunication is rampant. Fake news, fake polls, fake people assail us on a daily basis. It takes a real serious effort to find out the veracity of a story, if we can at all. One has to examine multiple points of view, multiple forms of media and multiple sources to even glean or hope for a true understanding of an issue. It can be a real pain in the, um, backside, like our favorite kitchen conversation topic. But to be as informed as we can, we need to persevere in understanding what is going on. Whether that makes a difference in the long run, I don’t know; but, for me, I need to try to get the best and most objective understanding of a subject, I try to consider all points of view.
Putting a little Vaseline on it may work for cold sores and even may work for hemorrhoids – I know it works for diaper rash – and I suppose (hah!), metaphorically, it may work for us adults who are trying to soothe the painful troubles of our times. If we realize that what we see and hear on the TV, the Internet, the paper and even what we hear from our friends is not necessarily the whole story or even the true story that can be the first course of treatment in getting to a higher place of understanding. And maybe from there, we can assuage the burning issues with the balm of compassion and commitment which will lead to respect, respect for each other and for our different points of view. And from that place of respect, I am confident, we can heal our country’s ailments. Fifty years after MLK, RFK, Vietnam and Watergate, we should be there by now.
— Donna Fentanes
Blogger Donna Fentanes is a mother of 10 kids living in Pacifica. She mixes humor and philosophical musings with everyday life.