I’ve gone through some tough times in my life, every single stressor imaginable: death, divorce, war, moving; I’ve been served, sued, betrayed, dumped, and even falsely accused. Because of where I’ve been professionally and personally, I have a pretty big world view. I can laugh at what life throws my way because I actually know from experience, and not theory, that that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. And stronger is the only way to go through life.
As a freshman, or Doolie, in the Air Force Academy we would have Saturday Morning Inspections. Our beds had to be tight enough to flip a quarter on with crisp, clean folded corners. We’d stretch the woolen blankets under the old coil spring mattress support with all our might. Many of us received a cut from tugging in the tight space and even now seeing it on my wrist brings back a fantastic sense of camaraderie. When I was serving on various active duty deployments we’d get a campaign ribbon for each particular conflict in which we served. Others who wore the same ribbon were united with you in serving in the same location or conditions, against a common enemy, for a singular good.
The more I experienced the more I was able to identify with other people and situations. Communication is about camaraderie. If I identify with you the odds we will be able to communicate are exponentially greater. Charlie “Tremendous” Jones spoke a great deal about communication issues in his speech The Key to Excellence. “I’ve been learning over the years if I can identify with you we can say a great deal without saying very much. If I don’t, we can live in the same house and die strangers.”
People who identify with one another begin to think together rather than listen to and argue with one another. This is the highest form of communication and the only one capable of changing the hearts and minds of mankind. It’s also the only force able to produce change in the world. Words spoken from a heart that’s lived out the pain, the anguish, and the jubilation of life are the ones that make us more human than human.