Downright Good Thought: If you plan on having a private conversation … then by all means, broadcast it while in public.

A funny thing happened the other day. Actually, it happened just a few hours before I wrote this. I was doing my normal “down-at-the-coffee-shop” thing to get some work done when I couldn’t help but overhear two men having a conversation next to me. And when I say that I “couldn’t help but overhear”, I really mean that. The simple fact is that everybody else around them couldn’t help but overhear too.

Ok, sure – I’m in a public place. People are allowed to mingle, talk, and exchange pleasantries while they’re here. I get that; but to cause such a commotion that attracts the attention of total strangers is not cool, man. Just not cool.

I thought that maybe it was their level of voice that made it unbearable, but then it occured to me. It wasn’t their tone or their loud exchanges; it was the content of what they were talking about. Which is a good tie-in to something else I want to touch on. Let’s be honest about something here. If you’re sitting somewhere and two people begin having a conversation close by, you tend to listen in. You may not do it consciously, but you end up doing it nonetheless. That’s a human condition. You want to know what warranted such a meeting and why these two people are engaging in conversation.

Or maybe you want involved? Either way, you turn an ear in that direction.

The next thing to be honest about is this: you judge what those people are talking about. Based on your level of interest, you may start to tune those other people out but if you’re interested (even a little) you’ll continue listening to see where this conversation goes. Maybe you know something about the topic? Maybe the subject matter hits close-to-home for you….whatever the reason, if it piques your fancy, then you listen in even further.

These two gentlemen grabbed my attention with their noise, but they kept my attention with their choice of topic. And that topic was religion. Ah yes. It’s one-half of another argument that will never have 100% resolution. The other half being politics, of course. And if there’s space left in that circle of indecision, I’d throw in the debate on Pluto’s designation as a planet for good measure.

Point is, I wanted to hear what these guys had to say once I knew what they were yelling at each other about. One appeared to be a jaded Christian, recently turned atheist, while the other was a reverend or minister of some sort in the Christian faith. The latter attempted to tell stories about life and how it related to his faith while the other seemed more interested in debunking everything the latter had to say. Topics started out on a small scale but things really escalated when one of the individuals started speaking on girls being allowed in boy scouts.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. WTF man. Ok, so that may not seem like a “hot topic” to you but I think every eye and ear within a 30 foot radius turned when that was brought up. That’s actually the funny part of this conversation. Were these folks listening in the whole time to this convesation or did you just choose now to show some interest? It seems that if you speak about religion, everyone doesn’t care as much, but as soon as you throw out the concept of girls in boy scouts, the whole world gets excited. Or at least a small coffee shop in the Midwest does.

I suppose that makes sense though. Unless you’re looking to engage on higher powers and your faith, you’re not really interested in hearing somebody else talk about it. However, if a societal norm goes out of whack, you key in to see what all the fuss is about. That too, is a human condition and an undeniable one at that. Yes, God and the eternal question of “why am I here?” will always plague humanity, but girls in boy scouts? Hey, that’s something we all need to know about gosh darn it.

But anyway, on another important note, if you plan on having such deep conversations in public then try to use your “inside” voice. Some conversations are best left on the private level. You’ll only disturb hardworking folks like myself who are merely minding their own business. But hey, you probably wanted to be heard in the first place. In which case, your mission was a success, my friends.

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