Lately I've wondered what's wrong with us all. Is there any intelligent life on earth? Does anyone listen to what they are saying? Does anyone just listen, period? It feels, sometimes, to me, like I am being bombarded with a hailstorm of comments, opinions, "listen-to-mes" -- me, me, me! Everyone wants to be heard, so everyone speaks -- more frequently, more urgently, more loudly. And it's just scattershot anonymously out "there," so much, to such vast audiences, that no one can listen. Paradoxically, by expressing our own thoughts so urgently, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to understand and learn from others thus making ourselves more ignorant and less intelligent. There's so much noise.
This week, I was introduced to this wonderful short story, published in 2016, by Ted Chiang called The Great Silence. I strongly encourage you to read it. It will take longer than one of my usual Monday messages, but not a lot.
It begins with another writer's recommendation. The story follows. Here are a few tidbits:
The universe is so vast that intelligent life must surely have arisen many times....Yet there is no sign of life anywhere except on Earth. Humans call this the Fermi paradox.
It's hard to make sense of behavior that's so different from your own.
Human activity has brought [many species] to the brink of extinction, but [t]hey didn't do it maliciously. They just weren't paying attention.
I hope we stop talking so much and start to listen more, really listen. Soon. To a human -- one right next to us. Try it.
You be good. I love you.
Here is your story: The Great Silence, by Ted Chiang