Cultural Conditioning

Our educational and cultural training may impede communication with other people. To truly realize this fact is to discover that we are not God. It is easier said than done. I live in this particular world, the Other lives in that particular world. Both are real, and we must bridge the gap between them if we wish to dialogue with each other. Otherwise he will not understand what I am saying, and I will not comprehend what he is saying.

Not only is it difficult to proclaim the truth. It is difficult even to point out the way to truth. I may say something which is rich in symbolic meaning to me, because of my education and experience. To another person it may be relatively meaningless. "Behold, the Iamb of God!" To me this may unfold rich layers of meaning. To another person it may be a pointless remark. The road to pastoral ineffec tiveness, like the road to hell, is paved with good intentions. It is not enough to say something. We must say something that is meaningful to other people.

To find out what is meaningful for another person I first of all must realize that my own world is not the whole world, that the other person has a world too. I must be willing to enter into that other world and to listen to that person from there. I must get over the notion that the other person has nothing to say. He has much to say, but his words and his world are different from mine. If I truly listen to his words and live in his world, then I may be able to say something meaningful to him.

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