By Emmanuel Argaud
Translation Louise Thunin
This morning, at the St. Georges station on the twelfth line of the Paris subway, I was meditating on the Bible passage of the day about the folly of proclaiming a God who saves us from the wisdom of humankind. I. Cor. 1 : 17-25. Three students come and stand opposite me, and I see the most fascinating choreography: with earphones screwed on both ears, they are having a conversation…using the instant-messaging application called Snapchat. These young adults are therefore doing two things at the same time, six inches apart. The ballet of expressions (mimics, smiles, shoulder shrugging) gives me the impression I’m attending a mute dialogue. Two stations farther, my neighbor calls to her companion about a photo they had exchanged, but having turned down the volume of their earplugs, it’s hard for them to hear each other. Then an exchange begins consisting of: What did you say ? Beg pardon ? Speak louder, in a frenzied discussion about fashion and clothes, clearly without understanding each other.
I couldn’t help smiling. Here is all the wisdom of the present-day world: we listen to our neghbor with music in our ears all the while trying desperately to understand him ! A caricature of contemporary listening : you watch television while you surf the Internet, or you watch the news on your screen while listening to your children or spouse tell about her day. Do you recognize yourself ? I do! Listening today means doing at least two things at once. This calls into question our ways of doing things and the meaning of the word “ listen”, which resembles less and less the word ”hear.“
At the Rennes station, I saw the folly of God manifest and overcome our human wisdoms. On the way out of the subway, the three students took off theur earplugs in or der to speak to and hear one another. A miracle! Saint George intervening after the fact ? I smiled inside, thinking that this crazy conversation was worth all the wisdoms of the world : hearing is perhaps simply pulling out our earplugs and really listening to the other person.
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