Monday, November 11, 2013



To many this has only one meaning but to me it has broad and eventful consequences. So many of us forget to ask, afraid of what we might hear and of course we never tell for fear of ridicule.

When was the last time you asked your wife, child, neighbor, friend or co-worker how they were and really meant it? Many of us have little or no idea what needs may be silently begged for and yet go unheard. Do we know what makes all those in and around our lives tick, smile, or fear? No, that’s the answer.

Wives become that woman who does, but inside may have a siren screaming for attention that goes unnoticed. It can be so simple, a warm meaningful hug could be all that is needed and yet missed.

Children grow up so fast, they are known to form their own ideas, most of which remain known only to them. Children fear being made fun of or laughed at. They are, after all, just children. What do they know?

Neighbors are those people who live next door or down the block. You wave or smile at neighbors but have little in common with them. Going out of your way can be painful. Can you remember the last time you asked a neighbor how they were? Have you ever asked a person living down the block if they needed anything or could use a shoulder to lean on? No, the answer is probably not.

Co-workers are people who fulfill duties, come and go and have little connection with anyone unless they get fired or their time is cut. In anger, we usually find answers to questions we didn't want to ask. For many who hope issues will just go away, their silence is not an easy way to avoid problems. Sadly, in many cases it doesn’t.

So much of our misery could be avoided if we spent a little time to explore things before we dove in and asked a few simple questions that might offend or create an argument. If we asked with sincerity, lives could change, and sad end results could be altered. We don’t ask because we don’t want to take the time required to follow through and do it in an honest and heartfelt way. We are afraid what is heard might take longer to deal with or solve or, God forbid, requires more time and we don’t want to part with our precious time, so ultimately we don’t ask.

It’s a bit scary when you wonder how many men don’t really know their wives or girlfriends. At times, men have no real idea what makes their mates inner engine purr. It takes both men and women years to realize the opposite sex is different inside and out. The discrepancy goes much deeper than sex, sports or leisure activities. The unknown in many cases is deep and even terrifying, and why few dare to explore. Sometimes its just easier to separate than deal with unknown issues that if talked out, questions asked, and secrets shared could alter both lives in unexpected and totally fulfilled ways. Few ask or tell and thats too bad.

Working with children is always a difficult task. Even when best efforts are used it can backfire and make matters worse. Without having an abundance of patience, you can expect failure to raise its ugly head. Few mothers and fathers really get to know their children. The little tykes are babies one minute and teenagers the next. They sprout unexpectedly, grow out of their clothes too fast, and before you know it they suddenly have adult type opinions of things you didn’t even think they knew about. Some children even have to audacity to explore a different faith than yours, disagree with their families in-house politics and change views on just about everything that started within the safety of their initial four walls. Kids can be difficult, moody, argumentative, and even downright ornery. They may use drugs, start smoking, or become loose with their sexuality. Many do this quietly and totally without guidance. Many parents are clueless and shocked when a discovery is made. Some parents are so afraid to hear the reasons for such rebellion they refuse to acknowledge it exists and choose to look the other way.

Have you ever asked why? The answer is basically easy, no one asks questions or listens to answers. Many parents watch from arms length while their children grew up right under their nose. No one dared to quiz or inquire about issues mostly hidden from plain sight. Things we accuse children of doing are for the most part, not in their thoughts but are, for whatever reason, in ours. Had we had enough curiosity to trust, ask important questions and know what our children thought about things it might change everything. To open dialogue is tough for many. Sometimes it takes lots of patience, something we don’t want to part with. Some actually believe it’s easier to avoid asking children uncomfortable questions, and allow things to happen as they do. Again too many wait until their children grow up and become adults. Sadly many do this and in most cases it's too late to make a difference. Kids automatically grow up believing parents are against them and everything they stand for. Some kids don’t have a clue what they stand for, so they follow others. If we expect them to tell us all about it, we’re dreaming.

When things are shared, things we don’t want to hear or deal with are uncomfortable, and become the unthinkable or the disgusting. Shoulders are turned, and ears are tuned into something else. It’s easier to avoid telling others about the feeling when a person sees reluctance in the eyes of their audience. Telling uncomfortable incidences is like sharing secrets. No one really wants to tell them that! What would they think of the teller? So don’t tell lives on. Too many hold those precious moments inside, and refuse to find room in their heads or hearts to store them. They go untold, un-whispered and unmentioned until they overflow and spill out at the most unexpected and inconvenient of times.

Don’t ask, don’t tell has potentially terrible consequences. Most adult problems lead back, and begin early in life. When people hide personal issues, they are usually declared as dirty laundry. Mental stress tends to disintegrate over time, and gradually forms an anxiety that will only get worse with age. It's not a good idea to push the art of asking or telling. A void is created when no one answers questions we may want to ask. It never leaves on its own, sadly it stays in mind and in some cases permeates and gets ugly.

Love is great if you know how to share and give it. Hugs are rewarding if they are meant and given with sincerity. Peace is a creation, a state of mind. We aren’t angry when we're born. We come into life with expectations, and in many cases those are slowly peeled away. Learning and listening are gifts that can be taught early if we know how to teach others how to learn, to listen and the true meaning of love and respect. Honesty and truth are also a state of mind. We watch others lie, cheat and steal and get away with it. Some even become extremely successful doing unto others what they would never do to themselves. It’s hard to turn that around and justify why a youngster should do the opposite and accomplish something right, honest and good.

One way or the other, we, all of us, need to get over it. We need to ask and tell and force others to do the right thing. It may be hard when there is a bias everywhere. People disagree. The news can be one sided. Lies can come from places we once respected. It’s hard to justify why it’s okay for a politician to lie and then later preach the complete opposite. There are laws written badly, decisions made by important people and activated because people were afraid to ask and tell their opinions. We need to stop the practice of believing everything we hear because someone said it was good or okay. We need to question, wonder and insist it be done right.

We need to ask more questions, tell more stories and reach out and seek ideas from those disagreed with. We have forgotten how to compromise, tell the truth and expect others to do the same to us, and we would do to them. We have forgotten how to reach out and help a stranger, listen to a child and hear someone from another culture, nation or ethnic background describe the differences that exist and then work together for ways to improve them. Listening is an art, and we need to learn how to master this art, improve it, and justify what is heard and taught. More importantly we need to find ways to get along, and live with one another in a very complicated world.

William Byron Hillman © 2013
Book Links:
Veronique and Murray:
Zebra’s Rock and Me
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure
In development Veronique and Murray’s Honeymoon

Rollie Kemp Books
Ghosts and Phantoms Part I:
Ghosts and Phantoms Part II:
In editorial – Prematurely Terminated

My next film:
Quigley’s Christmas Adventure