Zen and the Art of Miscommunication – A Look at How Bicyclists and Drivers Miscommunicate On the Road
- Published: Thursday, 25 August 2016 21:06
- Written by Administrator
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People involved in the communication arts industry are very lucky – they are schooled in the process of communication and thus, when they complete the course, they can be considered creative masters of communication. It is as if they can manipulate or direct other people’s thoughts to conform to a norm they find fascinating at the moment. But what again is communication? Can one communicate with oneself or is there a need for it? Does it always need two entities or two institutions in order to be called a legitimate communication? What are the tools we actually need to communicate and do we really employ them always? What are the essentials in order to elevate it to an art form that the masses can relate to?
Communication is a mode of connection among people, and thus it pre-supposes knowledge of language, which includes recognition of sounds, symbols and gestures. It is an interchange of what goes inside the minds of those who participate in process, whether through speech, hand gestures, the written word, or even feelings and maybe, emotions.
We have mentioned tools of communication and certainly they do exist and from time immemorial, they facilitated and aided people to carry out their missions – whether in times of peace or in times of war, either covert or broadcast out in the open. They made possible tons of discoveries, inventions, and helped develop new ideas, improve old ideas, and spread them wide across the world, and when and where necessary, discard ideas that doesn’t fit the collective minds of the community where they used to be the norm. The basic idea of communication however, has not changed and no amount of worldwide access to the internet can change it. People participate in communication activities to promote agendas, whether on their own or as part of a group.
That was a rather long preamble but a necessary one in order to lay down the ground rules for the following. Let’s go on by saying that bicyclists and drivers do have very much in common as they too, have lots of differences. Ask a bicyclists about what they think of drivers and be prepared to listen to a cacophony of curious complaints, sassy sound bites of repressed anger, punctuated by an expletive or two here and there. And surely enough, ask a driver about bicyclists and you should be prepared for the same tirades plus some, as well. So given this scathing scenario, how can we cross this “great divide” between drivers and bicyclists? How can we put an end to the presence of seeming animosity and the absence of real communication?
Much of the information we receive, especially if our only source of information is the Internet, are either exaggerated or based on misinformation or manufactured facts. This in itself is already a dubious launching pad for any kind of discussions, especially if we want them to be sane and we want our present endeavor to be sane. Let us assume then that each bicyclist or driver we meet on the road is certainly real - actual people capable of true communication. Behind the locked doors and tinted glass of their cars are individuals who breathe, eat, talk, and dream just like everyone else. The same of course can be said of our pedal pushers, who would wear replica signature tinted eyeglasses (with exceptions, of course) instead of windshields, whether they are on their way to work or going back home to their families. Because both groups are composed of real people, we should not forget they are indeed capable of communicating their thoughts, feelings, emotions and everything that can be expressed outwardly, physically, and understood, assimilated by others. However, this is where the problem starts.
If everyone is capable of accurately expressing his/her feelings even in sign language, translate their thoughts into intelligible actions, then maybe our communication process can be easier and everyone will learn to find the true meaning and values behind those feelings and actions. However, the situation is far from the ideal. Some people are just simply incapable of expressing their thoughts while others have the most difficult times in the world in moving a muscle to show a bit of emotion. Some people can immediately grasp ideas based on symbols used by other people while some couldn’t care less about what they themselves or others feel or want to express. In other words, we have to have the right tools both to help us express and at the same time interpret for us the meanings of what we perceive around us.
But here again is another problem – the speed in which we need to interpret and find relatable meaning to what we see and experience on the road: communication should be fast, and not just lighting fast. It’s not just simple physical speed that we need. We need it to be on the realm of the spiritual where instantaneous communication occurs. Bicyclists and drivers need this kind of “spiritual” connection in order to co-exist on the road. Why? Because one needs to act and react fast in order to avoid accidents. And because the idea of sharing the road and other material/non-material things in this world, goes beyond the physical being of that thing being shared.
Sharing is unselfishness, it is accepting each other but not according to justice but as required by charity. Charity doesn’t look at the kind of car or bike you have; it doesn’t care about the cost, or year model of either car or bike. Charity shows us the way how to truly stop, look, and listen, pointing to the heart , where the road to real sharing begins. Its end is not only sharing of the road but of minds and hearts as well.