Economy of force

The Chinese classic reads “use four ounces to deflect a thousand pounds.” I think about people and communication: sometimes if we take enough time to learn where a person is coming from, we find that we need only a few words to provoke a reaction which otherwise would require considerable time to convey. People are not so critically different from one another. Chances are, they’ve already experienced before, in some way, what we’re trying to express. So that if we take the time to discover the condition of their being, we may notice that they are even teetering on the point of realization, and it requires only the slightest breath to accomplish all that our words might have done.

As an example, I was talking to a friend one day who was debating whether philosophy really wasn’t just a science that begins with words and ends with words. I’ve spent hours before, in the past, trying to defend philosophy from this accusation. But this time, as I was trying to think of a response to give, the following question occurred to me: “Do you consider poetry to be something that begins with words and ends with words?” She answered no. When I asked why, she said because it can change a person – effect a change in their heart. I just smiled at this, and she understood my meaning perfectly. A handful of words had accomplished successfully something I’d never been able to do in the past.