There are many reasons why conversations are as essential for human life as oxygen.
“No man is an island” is one — we must be part of a larger” we” because we cannot live alone.
Another is that conversations are how we learn best. When we tell someone else what we believe, they have an opportunity to help us explore why we believe, in the give and take of conversation. If we are open to their questions — and to the questions and insights they trigger in us — then we can adjust our mental models of the world, if that is warranted.
Third, conversation is a main path we can take in our “quest for truth.” Certainly we can study and reflect on our own, but conversation with others that we trust reveals new vistas that may lead us toward aspects of the truth that, up to now, we haven’t been able to see.
The problem of conversation
So, if conversations are so powerful, why don’t we have more of them? Why do we have to “make time” for conversations in our 21st century life?
The simple answer is that we fill our life with non-conversational activities, without intending to do so. When I was a boy, in the 1940s, my parents and our neighbors sat on their front porches and had conversations because there wasn’t much else to do. Then TV came along, and everyone sat alone in their living rooms watching TV. They actually had to make time to have the same convesations they used to have with their neighbors before TV.
Now, 60 years later, add the Internet and constant interconnection via mobile phones and there is far less time for conversation than even the days of TV. We must “make time” for conversations in our lives if we want to experience their power.
My hope for Imagining Rama
I wrote my book as a trigger for conversations. I imagined the most powerful context for living I could reach — to lure my readers into asking, “How do you know that’s true?” Or better yet, to imagine their own sense of reality and feel the urge to share it with others, in conversation. We can only discover the meaning of our life if we have conversations with people we trust about “what it all means.” I hope you’ll read my book and make time for such conversations.