Dull and Ignorant

From Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata:

“Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.”

Two things occur to me when reading this.  First, this passage recognizes the human tendency, when we want to be heard, to dial up speech a notch (or several) in loudness and in pitch – that is, we tend to get louder and more shrill.  On reflection, it seems apparent that while that strategy may make us more likely to be heard, it also might make us less likely to be listened to.  Second, the “even the dull and ignorant” part has always seemed arrogant to me.  But as I reflect on that I have to chuckle because my inclination to defend those “dull and ignorant” speakers reveals an assumption which is certainly incorrect – that the “dull and ignorant” are always “them” and never “me.”  So on second thought, yes, listen to the “dull and ignorant,” especially the dull and ignorant!

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