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Once again, he was an important historical figure,” said the author. “He was the forerunner of some of the greatest political players of our time, and if you look at a list of all his accomplishments, once again – one can only say, he was ahead of his time.”

I’d been listening to this conversation on NPR for a good fifteen minutes, engrossed and infuriated. Truth be told, I had no real interest in some politician’s biography, but what was really keeping me tuned in was one simple fact. During the whole conversation, the moderator and the guest had never once mentioned the historical figure’s name!

Who the heck is it?” I yelled at the radio. “Once again, I ask, ‘what’s the dude’s name’ for crying out loud.” As the program ended I put two and two together. My face turned red and I was really embarrassed, even though it was only me and the radio in the room. For goodness sake. The historical figure’s name?

Juan Seguin.

Once again.

Le sigh.

I thought they kept saying, “once again,” when they were actually – repeatedly – saying the name of the man they were talking about. Juan Seguin.

Merciful heaven! Think I need to leave my brain to science. If they’ll take it!

But how often do we find that we’re not really plugged in, not paying attention, but get riled up while having only half of the facts?

On my local newscast, a man was interviewed about the imminent introduction of Obamacare, and he said, emphatically, to the reporter, “It would be great if we had a little bit more time to get used to the idea. I mean, there wasn’t even any warning this was happening so soon!”

Say what? How much more warning could there possibly have been? I wrote an article about what was then the Health Care Reform Bill for the magazine Music & Sound Retailer in January of 2010. I interviewed small business owners from across the country and they hated the idea even then. So this law has been around in some form for years now.

Somebody at a store mentioned to his friend that he had a contracting job in Pohatcong. “Don’t you mean ‘Hopatcong’? his friend corrected him, rather (if I may coin a term) jerkily. But here in New Jersey, we’ve got a rich palette of Native American-based town names. We’ve got us a Pohatcong, all right. Along with a Hopatcong, and even a Lopatcong for good measure. So there, Mr. Know-it-all!

Maybe we should start a new holiday: Fully-Paying-Attention-Day. I know most of you out there are multi-taskers, but wouldn’t it be a kick if all of us were on the same page, tuned into the same wavelength? Taking a time-out from assumptions and half-hearted conversations might even lead to real communication. Once again I say, let’s really listen to each other (if only for today!)

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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