Yes or No?


Our sound bite age is impatient with answers that take more than two minutes.  We want it simple and we want it quick and we want it to be correct and all encompassing.  Our culture may be in that ‘want’ position, but it’s unrealistic, unhelpful, untruthful, unfulfilling and just does not work.

I am reminded of the story of the old farmer, with a horse and cart riding through the country lanes with his dog by his side and a load of hay on the back.  A sports car came around a bed far too fast and crashed into the old farmer causing considerable damage an loss.  Eventually the farmer and the driver had their day in court and of course the farmer was trying to get compensation for his loss; on the other side the defence for the insurance company were trying to settle for as little as possible.

The lawyer defending the insurance company against the farmers claim had a last chance to cross examine the farmer in the witness box and he started by saying, now please sir please just answer my question with a yes or no answer, it very simple, did you or did you not when questions by the police officer at the scene of the crime answer the constables question, when he asked you are you all right, yes thank you I am fine. The farmer did not want to answer yes or know and began “well my Lord it was like this” he got no further as the lawyer interrupted with, now please just answer yes or no! Again the farmer tried,  ­­­I was lying in” again the lawyer stopped him, please sir I have already said a yes or no answer. The farmer tried a third time “when my horse” again the lawyer interrupted and said, please sir what is it that you don’t understand about yes or no?

Fortunately at this point the judge intervened and stopped the defence lawyer and said, I know you want a simple answer, but I am going to rule that we let the farmer answer the question in his own way. So please do not interrupt him again, we will hear what he has to say.

The Farmer thanked the judge and proceeded with his story “when the car came round the bend very fast it hit my horse and cart, the horse was knocked to the ground, my dog was flung over the hedge on one side of the road and the impact through me over the hedge on the other side of the Road.

I was lying in a ditch groaning with pain when the police quickly arrived.  Being in a farming community they looked at my poor horse lying on the ground and said this horse is in great pain and defiantly cannot be helped, as I say being in a country area the police are used to animal problems and one of them went back to the car and brought out a gun and then I heard them say this animal is really injured we need to put it out of it misery, and they shot my horse.

They then found my little dog who was whimpering in the ditch the other side of the Road from me and I heard them say again this dog is so badly hurt we need to put it out of it misery and they then shot my dog.

Finally the policeman carrying the gun found me in my ditch and looking at me with his gun in his hand he asked are you all right to witch I replied I am fine thank you”!!!

So what am I going on about, I have just watched on of those question type programmes on TV with all its discussions, trying to track the big issues of the day, but expecting people to give good summaries of complex issues in sound bite answers and reach helpful conclusions?

They never do because the sound bite, yes no answer does not really give us the depth and breadth of the understanding that often these questions need.  So what do you want, the easy yes or no, or something that is more meaty, accurate and really addresses the issue.

Adrian Hawkes
Edited By Gena Muoria
W. 721

24thFebruary 2013

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