Friday, February 1, 2008

Silence Doesn't Lie

When it comes to people, it’s remarkable really, how animals, both wild and domestic, seem to know whom they can trust and whom they can’t. There are countless antidotes about dogs or cats sensing something troubling about an acquaintance, a new boyfriend or girlfriend, a delivery man, friend of a friend etc. I’ve often observed dogs grow agitated at the very appearance of a particular individual, even before the person says a word. Wild animals will often remain calm and unconcerned around some people, but become nervous and aggressive when near others. Frequently they will flee a situation altogether if sensing a profound enough need for self-protection. Newspapers are filled with stories of women who were harmed by men whom they immediately and instinctively mistrusted, only to have over-ridden their own intuition with a rationalization based on need. Need for companionship, need to be liked, or not wanting to offend, or to think of oneself as ‘accepting’, or as ‘not ruled by fear’, or any one of a myriad of other reasons.

The point here is that we’re losing the ability to rely on gut-level perceptions. Remarkably, we’ve come to substitute flimsy rationale for the intuition that has been built into our very core. The intuition that was designed to ensure our well-being, our longevity, our personal prosperity. The thing about animals is that they are masters of the obvious. Because they don’t understand the words we (as people) speak, they cannot be misled by them. They tune in almost exclusively to body language, movement, facial expressions, twitches, ticks, and (when a person is speaking) tone and manner of voice. It is much more difficult, almost impossible, to fool an animal. Some animals (like people) will ignore their internal alarm in order to get something they want, but for the most part they pay attention to what their natural powers of observation are saying.

Over a great many years I have (from a distance) frequently watched conversations between people whose voices I could not hear. I have always been fascinated by those exchanges. Having no idea what was being discussed, it would still become fairly obvious if one person or the other was being genuine or not. Not a judgment I would make, but a loudly registered internal and natural perception (instinct). Some call it a sixth sense, usually accompanied by the implication that it is something that ‘some’ people have. In actuality, everyone has it. But not everybody uses it.

I have always enjoyed watching television with the sound turned off. Interesting how a particular actors’ performance can seem very good, even profound. But turn off the sound and you can see the flaws, even the dishonesty in the performance. You begin to realize how the words being spoken, the music of the soundtrack, even the laugh track, can enhance or disguise the true performance. You can see that an actor might not really believe what he’s saying. Watching an actor without sound can also produce the opposite result. You might see a more brilliant performance than you saw with the sound on. My point here is that sound (and especially words) can obscure the reality of what you might otherwise be seeing. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “He hides behind his words”? Many people do hide behind their words. Politicians in particular.

Don’t know about you, but with the campaigns for the presidential nominations in full gear, I’m getting pretty sick and tired of the phoniness being displayed by just about every one of the candidates. Everybody saying what you want to hear. Everybody pretending to be the candidate of integrity. The honest candidate. The one above the fray. And we’re going to be getting this dog and pony show shoved in our faces for the next year. Let’s face it, that’s politics, but we don’t really need to hear anything more they have to say.

I have a suggestion. Why not turn off the volume of the TV and just watch these people like an animal would. Silence doesn’t lie. You want to know who’s telling the truth? Who’s trying to fool you? Who’s hiding behind their words? Who actually believes what they’re saying? Politics aside, who you can trust as a person? I’ve been watching without the sound for a very long time now. I’m neither a Democrat or a Republican, and I don’t fully agree politically with any of these people, but I do know what I see. It registers on an instinctual level.
I’m pretty familiar with the politics of all four of these candidates. Some I like better than others. Some I dislike more than others. But the following conclusions are based solely on what I have observed of them without the hollow sound of their words. I must admit, two of the conclusions surprised me. Two did not.

If I were a dog greeting visitors in my keepers front yard, this is how I would respond to each of the four leading candidates for President if they came to my house.

Barak Obama - I’d meet him at the gate, lead him up the walk, through the house to the back yard where my family was gathered. And, based on my comfort level with him, they’d probably invite him to stay for the barbecue.

Mitt Romney – I’d meet him at the gate, lead him up the walk and through the house to the kitchen. I’d leave him there, and go out back to get my keepers. They’d come in and have coffee with him at the kitchen table.

John McCain – I’d meet him at the gate, lead him up the walk to the front porch, then go over to the side of the house and bark for my keepers to come out front to sit with him for a chat on the front porch.

Hillary Clinton - When I saw her coming from down the street I’d begin running the perimeter of the yard, barking loudly to deter her from coming any closer to my house. And to warn the neighbors that she was in the neighborhood.

Again, based solely on watching them to see what registers as genuine, and what does not.
Just my observations. You do your own.