Why is everyone talking at once?

Call me old fashioned, but I want to hear what other people have to say, which is why I hate it when I hear voices talking over each other.  It’s disrespectful.  It’s impolite.  It’s deafening.

But, of course, that’s the point.  Those voices don’t want to hear other voices.  They think theirs is the only voice that matters.  It’s the only one that’s right.

Did I peg it?  Is this what’s wrong with our political system right now?  And I’m talking both sides of the aisle – so if you’re going to accuse me of being a leftist from Massachusetts, save your breath.  I’m one woman who believes in freedom for all.

My problem isn’t the message.  It’s the way it’s delivered.  I miss the old days, when we respected other people enough to give them a chance to speak without interrupting.  It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, we live in a pluralistic society and need to respect each other, even when we disagree.

I’m talking about civil discourse.  The president of Georgetown University expressed it well this week. In a letter to his students, John J. DeGioia said, “We have learned through painful experience that we must respect one another and we acknowledge that the best way to confront our differences is through constructive public debate. At times, the exercise of one person’s freedom may conflict with another’s. As Americans, we accept that the only answer to our differences is further engagement.”

I want that engagement to be civil.  How about you?




Share this:
Posted in


  1. Jade @ Tasting Grace on March 9, 2012 at 7:00 am

    I wholeheartedly agree! Not only for political debates, but normal every day discussion too. We all want to be heard and acknowledged, but it’s important to hear the other side and NOT assume you know what they’re going to say before they even say it. That’s how discourse never gets furthered, because people keep saying the same old things over and over and never hearing or giving space for something new. Sometimes the most important part of speaking is the part where you just listen. Thank you for this post!

  2. Jane Pianowski on March 9, 2012 at 8:03 am

    YES! You are so right, Ms. Delinsky! I wonder if the reason that people (on both sides) keep talking over one another is because they are afraid that the other side might actually have a VALID POINT! Perhaps what they’re really afraid of is compromise – because we all know that compromise doesn’t get one the media attention that is given to loud, uncivil discourse.

    A sad state of affairs.

  3. Allison Leotta on March 9, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Agreed! In Columbia, Maryland, there are these great bumper stickers that just say “Choose Civility” — very popular among soccer moms. It’s a great reminder that even if we disagree, we can do it while respecting each other.

  4. Marjorie Roberts on March 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I now know why my grandmother was so quiet when she was alive. I’ve been turning into the same person. Most of the time when I am with others, I just stay quiet instead of getting set up to be interrupted. My mind wanders anyway – I need to improve my listening skills. When asked an opinion or about the goings on in my life, I speak of course. But that doesn’t even stop the interruptions. It’s what I expect now and I don’t let myself get upset over it. It’s just how it is at the present – lots of people need understanding and have problems. In other words, I just let it be and accept it as the way life is.

  5. Julie Kibler on March 12, 2012 at 12:41 am

    I’ve had this same conversation about three times this weekend. It makes me think of this Rumi quote:

    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

    I’m afraid if we don’t start figuring out where we agree, we’ll never make any progress where we don’t. Finding a place of mutual understanding is an entry point to actual conversation about conflict.

Leave a Comment