Visions and Sounds

Sight and sound are equally important in the way we experience the world, yet the visual dominates.

Sound has an important role to play in nature and human societies. From the bird song that breaks out to let us know dawn of a new day has begun, the use of drums by some cultures as a form of aural communication, and the songs we sing to accompany of life’s journeys, to the speeches made by orators that move us by their words alone. What we hear influences how we feel and what we do.

As technology has advanced, the world has become an increasingly noisy, confusing and disturbing place. However, the visual still overides the sound. Social media has reinforced the visual with Instagram, Snapchat and even Facebook focusing on it. How many reading this have tried the filters on them, or the new age app to see how we will look when older? YouTube is about the moving image, but it is still more watching than listening that dominates it. Furthermore, loosing our eyesight is seen as far worse than our other senses – research found in medical students almost 60% considered blindness worse than deafness while only about 6% considered deafness worse. Yet, we can buy a pair of reading glasses from a supermarket for our eyes, why is it not that simple for our hearing?

We live in a world of fake and manipulated images, so how can we believe what we see as real? Equally, what we hear is just as fake – from the latest pop song that the vocals maybe the vocalist’s own mixed with others then autotune to produce the voice we hear streamed in our ears, to the mainstream news stories told by reporters as fact but maybe spun or based on slight truths. In many ways we live in George Orwell’s 1984: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

Perhaps we let visual dominate as we like to see the world through rose tinted glasses, and by listening we are forced to hear things we may not want to. Equally, by listening properly we have to engage in a way we are forgetting, as have become too addicted to the little black mirror that has more technology in it than took a man to the moon fifty years ago.

So what can we do? Use all our senses, not just our vision and hearing. “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” Roy T. Bennett,

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Words

From our youngest days we learn words, spoken and written. They have power and influence; they build, shatter or kill. Perhaps the most powerful weapon known to humanity; capable of driving one person insane, or changing another’s life for the better.

Do you want to know the worst part about words? It is so few us realise the power they hold. A humorous remark by one, can be an insult to another. Is it any wonder we call it spelling, as cast a spell upon those that hear them said aloud or given voice.

So what can we do? It sounds simple, listen. These days we often have our heads in our phones or think of something else rather than listen to what another is saying. We are also in a rush to get from A to B that we all to often fail to register and/or dissect.

How can we listen better? By being mindful and taking an interest in the life of someone other than ourselves. Put down the mobile phone and share in the tears or laughter. Thinking twice before we post it to Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, as can bite back.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Raise your voice, not the sea level

Today is World Environment Day, with the theme ‘Raise your voice, not the sea level’ for the small islands of the world and climate change.

Our world I believe has changed in my lifetime as it has yours. Maybe it was being aware by my teens of environmental issues, from CFCs, Rainforest destruction and extinction of animals, all of which I felt were important to be addressed but all too often lost in the bigger story of humanity over Earth’s, one. We have replaced her with our own agendas, dictatorial speeches and songs.

Climate change has been perhaps the biggest story in our collective lifetimes. During my PhD I discovered changes both natural and human driven 2000 years ago, so the current changes to the environment and climate interest me on many levels. I care passionately about this world of ours and share with so many others beautiful species from cyanobacteria to plants and animals.

I am not going to say if I’m a sceptic or accepter of climate change, but we must remember that every action we do has a ripple or domino effect. In considering the impact of change we need to consider all life that live on that island and respect it, if that means listening for example to the native women, that’s what we do, and not put our size 9s and master hat thinking we know the solution.

With all the talk of Fracking close to home, many in my own country forget we too live on an island and are we prepared for changes in sea level – no! It takes a special kind of person to listen, so perhaps we should be listen and watch the small islands so they can teach us how and what not to do, respecting their traditions.

© Fi S. J. Brown