Speech is a complex phenomenon. Human beings top the animal world in this skill. My pet dog must be curious about all our chatter but he is more or less content that these are not always directed towards him. He must have watched us bark at each other too. On top of this skill, we have devised writing. We have made great efforts towards the spread of our speech with the help of writing, reproducing that writing a million times. He must be amused that we can keep silent for hours with our eyes rolling over a bunch of papers. He has no idea how this has affected our progress.
Most people acknowledge this progress. Many people have reminded us from time to time that in spite of all the progress, speech and writing has also brought us destruction. Today I am more concerned with how we can strike a balance between this progress and this destruction both of which are products of disseminated speech.
Why write is a good question to begin with. In our technology driven world, writing is so easy. I am writing about law, about public figures, the condition of poor people, the responsibility of the rich towards the poor, the duty towards Nature and so on. I am writing more and more on the things that should be done, not necessarily by me as an individual but by us as a community, with our customary claim that our representative should take the initiative. I am always writing. Thankfully, it is that kind of barking which my pet dog cannot hear.
This is where the concept of worldview can help. The moment I can spell out my worldview, my intellectual conception of the universe from my perspective, I can limit my chatter to something concrete and useful to say. The very conscious individual in my view would actually become very quiet. There would be very few echoes of others’ chatter. There would be hardly anything to say if someone else has already articulated my view.
How can this be achieved by those innumerable speakers and writers? It will be possible if each one of us speaks only to the pet dog. The relationship of a human and his pet animal is that of pure love, love without show-off. It is a relationship of care without any expectations. I can sit with my pet noiselessly for hours. I would talk to him only when I want my meals. Or conversely, he would talk to me only when his tummy is growling. What a quiet scene it would be!
This love, that comes before wealth and fame, but which fetches us enough happiness and enough resources for a living is probably the only driving force that does not cause destruction in the world. This love would then be articulate only for the good of the world, only for progress. It would be productive to the essential limit. It would seek the means of living that is barely sufficient and does not intrude in another’s space. It keeps talk specifically focused on the need. Love makes talk purposeful.
But this is not just about my pet dog.
My worldview extends to support the planet. So I cannot remain silently connected only to my pet dog. Speech connects me to the rest of the planet. Hardly any other device would. It makes me a writer. If I were a manufacturer, I’d have offered my wares to the rest of the planet as a support. But here I am sitting at home thinking of the world, trying to figure out what it is that would benefit the world and as a result start writing.
I may be saying something that another person does not like. Yet I am looking up to her for approval, for the spread of my writing. I look up to her particularly because she has devised the means of spreading the word around. I may be lacking that device; I may not be that resourceful.
Now think of the dog’s bark. There are just a few modulations from which we try to understand him. So is with the written language. It can be twisted and manipulated in various ways to give it various interpretations. So if I have something to say but I hand over my words, my manuscript to someone who thinks she knows better, particularly because she has already built up an audience around her elocution, I am sacrificing my sovereignty. I am subjecting my speech to manipulation by another who can now lend it a different meaning. She would redo the write-up or advise me to rewrite it from her point of view.
Most prominent people have started their own journals, blogs and publishing houses only because they were not willing to give up this sovereignty of theirs, their control over what they communicated. Gradually other like-minded people have teamed up with them. But if I do not have that like-minded group in my vicinity, I have to go about barking on my own for some time at the beginning.
This struggle for authenticity in my communication is the building block towards peace. I write for the sole purpose of communicating my worldview, not echoing others. My pet dog and I have come to a truce. We bark only when necessary for progress. We bark only when no one else has already said it. We bark in urgency, not to make unnecessary noise. We bark if there is a cause to bark about.