At the recent Communities in Control Conference, at which I was filming, the second question raised at the Our say Panel session was about the importance of oral communication and language skills – it was:
"One in 14 children in Australia is born without the capacity to gain, understand or use language. Without intervention they face a drastic future, so much so that 50% of youth offenders in this country have a serious oral language deficiency. Why, as a nation, are we not tackling the challenges that these children present us with?"
Stephen Mayne in response to the question highlighted the importance of Oratory skills, citing Barack Obama as the most obvious recent example of someone whose oratory skills has been crucial to their success. Click here to see the You Tube video of this
But while I agree with the importance of oral communication skills I think we often miss the other side of the coin on this issue – there will always be people who for one reason or another are worse at communicating than others.
We need to not only train people to have better oratory skills, but also, and more importantly, train people to listen to those who don’t have oratory skills - they often have something worthwhile to say, and sometimes the have things to say that are absolutely critical, that we need to hear for the good of ourselves and more importantly our society as a whole.
Sometimes the most powerful oratory can consist a very few words and a lot of silence for people to understand their meaning. I am reminded that Lincoln’s Gettysburg address lasted just over two minutes.
Even shorter were Jesus’ words when faced with an angry self-righteous crowd hefting rocks – “Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone” – and then he sat down and drew in the dirt letting the silence that followed speak even more powerfully.
And now for a poem.......
Black Hole Reflection
Is belief more than
The filtering process of the mind
Faith is an insubstantial whisper
Louder and stronger
Than the greatest ocean
Faster than the swiftest comet
Hurling through space
Carrying all our destinies
A plug for the black hole
At the core of our being
That we only recognize
In the contrast
Of the brilliance behind
Star stuff are we
Every molecule of our being
Born in a furnace
Hurled through the endless void
Forever and a day
Until it ended up
Here and now
And we don’t think that’s a miracle?
It’s the filtering process of the mind
There are some things we can’t handle
So we break them down
Into molecules and atoms and strings
And rearrange this dust
Back into us
By the process of random chance
But who are we kidding?
There’s still a black hole
At the core of our being
That we see only by reflection
Of star stuff
And no matter how hard
We ignore it
Can only be described as