Updated: Oct 26, 2019
Originally, I was a couple of days late into this newest viral post asking, “Which do you hear - Yanny or Laurel?” (I will not disclose which one I heard - and can’t unhear - until the end of my post, so as to not lose half my crowd in the opening paragraph!) I was sitting up in bed late one night with my wife, watching videos, scrolling, swiping and reading... then... this. And so began the debate between us. The morning after filing divorce papers - just kidding - I began to consider which important insights these examples could offer us in the areas of perception, communication and truth.
So.... what can we learn from these two divisive examples that nearly broke the internet? Communication and perception can be ridiculously tricky! How many friendships were put on the line with conversations about the infamous “dress” or this “yanny / laurel” debate? The interesting thing is that these examples, in and of themselves, don’t even matter in the grand scheme of life. What about the things that really do matter? And how can Scripture help us understand correctly and communicate effectively with those who may not understand why we put our trust in Jesus?
1. Perception Is Relative
1Corinthians 2 - 11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God... 14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
How in the world can you truly and accurately “get“ someone when you‘re not, in fact, that person? Have you ever considered the vast array of personalities out there? Not to mention, the mind-boggling amount of differing worldviews that are all available to us. We use these as our individual foundations for knowledge and how we process the world around us. Add those things together and you end up with a cocktail that‘s destined to explode at any moment. I remember a song years back with the lyrics, “You say, I only hear what I want to.” My goodness, how true that line is. You may be saying “Yanny” well enough, but all the other person can hear is “Laurel”.
2. Communication Must Be Relateable
Colossians 4 - 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Current climate within our culture has so confused terms, definitions and meaning, that it may seem utterly impossible to find a starting point. Still, you must be the bigger person and find that common ground. Even though we can all easily argue about anything, even the most polemic among us can usually find some area of agreement. So start there. Build on that. The more conversations I have, the more I realize I would rather err on over-clarifying rather than just assuming that the other person(s) in the conversation “gets me”. When confusion is viral, empathy is vital.
With conversations that truly do matter, we should be mindful not to sugar-coat what it is we’re trying to say. People can see through that and will not respect you for it. However, as the writer advises in the passage above, our words should have a savory flavor to them. Salt is a unique choice of words as it has both the properties of being a preservative and an irritant at the same time. You can preserve the dignity of the person, while at the same time discussing a topic that carries tension within it.
3. Truth Is Still Objectively Real
John 8 - 31 If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
If you want to see one of the greatest examples of the “Yanny / Laurel” debate in Scripture, read all of this narrative from chapter eight of John to see its full context. This is exactly what we see happening in a conversation between Jesus and the haters of his day. He was clearly saying one thing and they kept hearing something completely different. Despite even all the miracles, they couldn’t stop and consider that they might be in the wrong.
This is the sad truth sometimes: You try to show empathy. You listen to their side. You offer a counter-perspective more fitting to reality. Then you see their face get beet red, their eyebrows tilt down towards the middle, their eyes roll back in their head. This is when you know that any hope for a mutual exchange of ideas might be over. Much in the same way, the opposition to Jesus were outmatched this day in this conversation. They had Truth personified, right in front of them and still they pushed against back unyieldingly.
4. Confession Time
So let me come clean: On the count of the infamous “dress”, I clearly saw white and gold. However, when the evidence presented itself, I could not argue that “the actual colour was eventually confirmed as blue and black”. (Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dress)
And yes, even though I’m a hardened Team “Yanny”, I couldn’t argue when the news confirmd it. According to Huffpost, “Sorry, Team Yanny, but multiple news outlets have confirmed that the infamous audio clip comes from Vocabulary.com where it serves as the pronunciation feature for the word ‘laurel,’ defined as ‘a wreath worn on the head, usually as a symbol of victory.’”
What do you think?
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