Conversation Turned to Assertion

The words below were written by Edward R. Murrow in 1952, as a forward to his book This I Believe.  His words still ring true today:

There was a time in this and other countries when sermons by great preachers and editorials by distinguished editors were the subject of prolonged and considered discussion in social gatherings. There was also a time when the writing of letters was an art so well developed that some of the letters were worth keeping and later being published between covers. But the speed of modern communication has largely turned conversation into assertion, and letter-writing into telegrams. The reporter and the listener, or the reader, are overrun and smothered, trampled down by the newest event before they can gain perspective on the one that just passed by. It has become a cliché to say that the modern man has been debased and materialized by the circumstances of his daily life.

We do, it is true, live in a society that is materialistic and mechanistic, where most of the goods we use are mass produced. We employ the same phrases, buy nationally advertised products, wear nationally branded hats and suits; the majority of newspaper editors have abdicated to syndicated columns. The voice of one broadcaster is heard from one end of the country to the other. There exists a real danger that the right of dissent, the right to be wrong, may be swamped because the instruments of communication are too closely held. We face the risk of forgetting that today’s minority may become tomorrow’s majority, and that every majority in a free society today was not so long ago a minority.

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