We think nothing today of conversing virtually instantaneously
with friends or business contacts on the other side of the globe.
A variety of media--the Worldwide Web, ordinary telephone or cell
phones, faxes and e-mail are close at hand to zip forth our messages--via
satellites and landlines. It's close to being face-to-face.
But other communications take place all the time in many forms in
the world of mankind and animals, too. Whales and porpoises emit
high-pitched squeals and squeaks, dogs bark and cats meow. Birds
have their chirps and whistles. Even insects, like tiny ants, have
some kind of innate ability to transmit signals to each other to
unite and attack enemies, carry and store food and dig tunnels.
Ancient man grunted and howled in anger and pain, not unlike we
do today. Babies, without the ability to utter one intelligible
sound, can tell us a lot. From their cries, we learn whether they
are hungry or thirsty, have a stomach ache or need a diaper change--or
are just plain cantankerous.
Man has been communicating since eons ago when it was accomplished
in primitive fashion, maybe hammering an animal bone on a skin stretched
across a section of tree trunk or cooking pot. Tribal people in
India and Africa still beat away on drums that vary little from
ancient times, as do American Indians, with special rhythms marking
celebrations of weddings, festivals and other events.
On the North American continent, Indians sent smoke signals to colleagues
miles away. Historical phenomena on display in the caves of Ajanta
in India and the hieroglyphics of Egypt reflect man's effort to
preserve his art, architecture, language and history for posterity.
Aborigines in what is now America fashioned pictographs etched into
stone and still preserved in various states, including Hawaii.
On a personal level, each normal person has an amazing set of sensory
tools to communicate through the intricacies of computer-like complexes--those
little gray cells of the brain--which constantly register a variety
of impulses. God gave us sight, smell, speech, hearing, and touching
sensitivity and some innate faculties that we do not fully comprehend.
Humans can communicate on a surprisingly high level, even when one
or more of these natural senses is stunted. The famous American
Helen Keller could not see, hear or speak. Yet this highly intelligent
woman learned how to make herself understood and exchange views
through touching and feeling to relay silent messages on an arm
or hand. She later used Braille to read but it was a sort of a Morse
code through touch that led to her literacy and the opening of a
In the contemporary era, electronic and other sorts of communications
became available for pursuit of war, peacetime commerce, human interface
and radio and television broadcasting.
On the high seas, crews of maritime and naval vessels employ devices
like powerful lights flashing code or danger warnings, signal flags
of various colors and sounding instruments to measure the depth
Sonar equipment emits pulses for underwater detection and radar
equipment identifies the "blips" of aircraft and ships
at sea for combat or safety purposes.
More sophisticated generations of technology, satellites and spacecraft,
have come along in close succession to transmit electronic beams
at the speed of light. These advances have enabled telecommunications
and astronomical links via land, air and sea, sometimes involving
distances of hundreds of millions of miles from earth.
In the "Information Age," we increasingly bank on computer
systems and cyberspace to learn and remain closely tuned to each
Moreover, the research and development of these intricate electronic
cobwebs have funneled enormous funds into economies internationally
to provide convenience, medical miracles and jobs for millions of
However, such elaborate systems are not always needed for communication
at the personal level. We are equipped to send signals through our
tone of voice and our eyes and expressions indicating irritation,
impatience, joy, pain, anger, sadness, high or low energy, youth
or old age.
Through our "Body English" one can clearly read signs
in other's actions pointing to tension, excitement, peace; whether
you are getting through with points you are trying to make or are
being tuned out.
We communicate our personality, too, through our environmental choices,
according to some experts. Those familiar with salesmanship techniques
say an individual's personality by can be measured by clothing,
home and office furnishings and mannerisms to adjust a sales presentation
accordingly to improve chances of obtaining the order.
In short, we are communicating all the time, frequently on an automatic,
reflexive basis. And these reactions and personality characteristics
serve as either building blocks or detriments to our interpersonal
relationships and careers.
It's clear that among humans, messages are dispatched silently all
the time, and not merely the "come-hither" glance of a
beautiful woman or handsome male to draw the attention of the opposite
sex. We respond positively to a smiling face or admirable persona.
We are attracted and enjoy being in the company of people gifted
with happy, bouncy natures for we pick up positive vibrations. On
the contrary, a person who habitually has a foreboding expression,
is difficult to be around.
Clearly it's important to "put on a happy face." Cheerful
companions and stressing the positive side of life also tend to
promote a healthy mind, body and attitude.
As to other means of communication, one of the most popular of course
is the written word in multiple modes, such as business and government
letters and releases, law journals, literature, poetry and the press.
Television and radio come into play in the sense that though it
is our ears, or eyes, being buffeted it is often someone speaking
words originating from the written page, whether news copy, actors
in plays or commercials.
Unfortunately, according to research, reading has slipped in popularity
in the United States due to television obsession.
However, it is the rare person who doesn't indulge in reading copy
in some form, especially when we can skim through newspapers, magazines
and books easily accessible on the Internet. As a result, we are
broadened and entertained in a positive sense, assuming we are exposed
to writing and reporting of merit.
Conversely, as we know from history the powerful arms of the media
in the hands of political tyrants also spread messages encouraging
violence, war, misinformation, hate and misery in general. Dictators
and military juntas continue to undermine democracy through manipulative
propaganda, spurning facts and objectivity.
In our American republic, political leaders also try to use the
media to put the latest "spin" on policies to curry the
favor of the electorate. Fortunately, unlike the totalitarian governance
in nations under the heel of despots, the U.S. Constitution guarantees
freedom of the individual and the press to engage in debate, publicize
dissent and seek solutions through the ballot box.
Another genre of writing is poetry, an art expresses sentiments
in a variety of unique ways to create graphic pages of beauty and
power, with which readers can identify and become emotionally involved.
For successful and aspiring poets, and those who immerse themselves
in verse for reading pleasure, we unite in a brother/sister-hood.
Ranging from sonnets and haiku to epic poems that chronicle stories
of history, we participate in the gamut of human experiences and
emotions. They encompass the marvel of nature around us; human inter-action,
like sexuality and the aspects of love between man and woman; the
devotion and affection of mothers and fathers for children and other
family members; courage in the tragedy of war; failure, disappointment
Poetry, in its best forms, magically blends everyday events into
an interplay of human and natural drama and language, more likely
than not emphasized by musical rhymes and cadences.
The lines and rhythm, dramatized by metaphor and simile and other
tools of the art lend a luster to the ordinary that removes the
scales from our eyes. The nitty-gritty pulses of life are transformed
into sublime settings that probe emotional depths and add greater
understanding and awe of the magnificence of our lives and universe.
Some writers who specialize in prose can similarly transport us
with novels, short stories and essays; witness the fund of classics
we can draw upon in our libraries and from our own bookshelves.
And the songwriter is a poet with an extra dimension, whether popular,
show tunes, operatic or other style. For example, some of our best-known
singers, such as Beatle Paul McCartney and Jewel have published
books of verse.
Gospel music is another form or songwriting that has proliferated.
Gifted young people originate their own lyrics, or take the age-old
Psalms of David and perform music that rewards the faithful with
Beyond its spiritual value, the Bible is a splendid literary source,
for some of the finest poetry and lyrics are found in the living
word of God that has power to transform lives.
It is worth considering how few of us reading this page, privileged
to have reading and writing skills, seldom consider the plight of
millions of people who are deprived due to illiteracy. Through no
fault of their own, they are victims, shackled in the mire of ignorance.
Consequently, they--and chances are the generations they spawn--are
denied avenues to education, knowledge and a greatly improved lifestyle.
One of the fallacies encountered is that illiteracy is immaterial
since the people affected don't know what they are missing.
It is obvious, however, that literacy is the major link to learning
and comprehension of other societies, cultures and countries, as
well as a lifetime of entertainment and enjoyment. Furthermore,
the acquisition of literacy is the key that unlocks the door to
learning. Stepping through that doorway can lead to an improved
standard of living for millions of families through upgraded job
skills and brighter prospects for employment.
As British novelist and essayist Aldous Huxley wrote, "Every
man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself,
to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full,
significant and interesting."