World has forgotten how listen

Published 7:29 am Thursday, December 26, 2019

Last night, I tuned in to see young Joe Burrow rise to accept the Heisman Trophy. Unfamiliar with that? Don’t fret; just read on.

What happened next was weird. Joe couldn’t get to the podium without a hug from the guy next to him; and the guy next to him/ and… Joe must have been hugged by everybody and everything in the house except the lamppost. Never have so many large grown men done so much hugging and back patting. It looked like Joe was wishing he were somewhere else. Getting flattened by a 360-pound defensive end would’ve felt better than all that mano-amano shmuck.

The point of this goes way beyond that. Our society has become so afraid of perceived insincerity that it’s hooked on expressions of forced affection. The word “love” has become so overworked as to have lost all real meaning— “I love my Waterpick!”, “I just love your earrings …”

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The excess pervades everyday speech. No one says, “Thank you” anymore without adding the redundant, “I appreciate it” or “I really appreciate it!” “Have a wonderful day.” Can’t anyone just

say “goodbye?”

At concerts, everyone stands and jumps and screams during the whole show. Why say you have tickets for seats since no one sits anymore.? And of course, the performance itself is more than 120 decibel fireworks and flashing lights than it is a simple performance of a song or dance. Anyone sober enough to reach the microphone is called an artist — another debased word. No time to contemplate Vermeer, to listen to Mahler — really listen!

Crowds at sporting events don’t sit either. The shouting and profanity scare away anyone hoping to simply enjoy a game. Painted bodies, spilled beer and non-stop heavy metal from the public address system make it unbearable.

I visited a local church for worship and wisdom. What I got was young people in jeans twanging guitars and shouting illegible words, all amplified by loudspeakers and huge video screens. I wonder what Jesus would think if he happened to drop in?

All of this cacophony and desperate seeking for something we can’t get because we can’t be quiet enough to let it come, no matter how fervently we wish to feel real love and meaning.

There’s a play titled, “Stop the world, I want to get off.” I’m afraid we got off long ago.

Ernie Henninger