When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
— Robert Frost, A Time to Talk
Imagine the audacity of pressing deadlines and the urgency of the moment pulling us away from what is most important. And we willingly do it, thinking there will be another time when we’re less busy and feeling less obliged to do what clearly must get done. Where do we best spend our time, if not for furthering relationships with our fellow time-travelers?
We hear about rampant depression and a longing for something tangible. There’s nothing tangible in the comments section of those popular social media platforms. We must meet each other face-to-face and sort out the world together, or together we’ll spiral deeper into chaos. To do this requires nothing more than meeting halfway. Doesn’t that idea feel as antiquated as the horse in Frost’s poem? Yet it remains the obvious answer to the problems of the world: diplomacy, compromise, mutual respect and understanding. These aren’t signs of weakness, in fact just the opposite: they betray inner character and a measure of emotional development.
We are the diplomats, you and me. We walk across the minefield of distrust and find common ground. Seeking first to understand, and then to be understood. There’s nothing easy about this in a world that rewards mic drops and jaw-dropping tweets, but the world has always been divided between those who make all the noise and those who quietly keep things from falling apart.
Imagine if we all simply stopped shouting and began to listen instead?