My psychotherapist of many years is Swiss-born. I mention his origin because there is still a bit of an accent and a slightly different distillation of the English language. He is a compassionate and understanding man. When I tell him of a calamity or disappointment that has befallen me, he will always express sympathy and regret on my behalf. What he often says – with many other words, to be sure – is, “Sorry to hear.” There is something about the absence of the words “about that” or any other modifier, which makes me feel much more understood.
You might think the reverse would be true. After all, isn’t it helpful when someone articulates the specifics of what they are truly understanding, what they are really getting that captures the essence of your experience? Sure. That makes sense. But, some things override sensible and reality-based expectations. I guess, when he says “sorry to hear” there is a part of me…an important part of me…that knows he truly is. And that makes all the difference. The authenticity of his presence and reaction is far more impactful than a couple of omitted words.
Which brings me to the extrapolation: We have become quite mired in the use or absence of specific words; less engaged with the underlying conviction. And, in response, our world (read: nation) has produced the major contenders for leadership of the “free world” who are deceitful, self-serving and untrustworthy. We hang on, print, repeat, and measure their words, but we all know (if we are at all honest) that neither gives a rat’s ass for much beyond their own power and image. Maybe it has always been so…No. I truly think we have reached a nadir of narcissism; a pandemic of puffery; a shit-storm of the supercilious, the snarky, and the substance-free.
True, true. We survived Nixon, Carter, and lame leaders too numerous to mention. I just can’t help being nervous about the wielding of power by either Trump or Hillary. We should all be very sorry to hear.