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People and Their Word(s)

A couple of days ago I made an observation that I am quite surprized to have realized so late in my life (for some reason, I expect this realization ought to have come perhaps during my adolescence or maybe early adult life).

There are aspects of this notion that have been clear enough to me for several decades, but in its simplest form, I remain astoundingly shocked.

As a child, I guess I may have thought there were true statements written in books — such as in the Bible, perhaps an encyclopedia, almost certainly mathematical proofs such the law of Pythagoras. Such laws, I may have thought, were written down because of their validity.

What occurred to me the other day is something quite different. All of a sudden I thought that there may very well be a sizable number of people (perhaps even a majority of human beings) for whom it seems at least just as important (and maybe even more important) who says something (rather simply paying attention to the actual words being said). One manner in which this appears to quite obviously to be the case is in the practice of “loyalty” (which has always sort of puzzled me as a behavior or expectation).

This seems to be a very simple matter — but one which I seem to have overlooked (until now). People expect loyalty, and therefore people pay a lot more attention to who (than I thought), and a lot less to what (than I thought). This is certainly not a proof, but I am nonetheless (for some odd reason) convinced of its validity (for now).