The Dispatches Of Hira Singh – Deafness

There are none so deaf, as those who will not listen”…… Old Proverb

I picked up this phrase from a book on War & Terror by Anthony Stevens, and this fits in very well with the ethos and the dispatches that my good friend, Hira Singh, has been bringing in from the front line.

The book is absolutely fascinating, and i have read it two times. 

Anyhow, think about this. When we speak of deafness, we generally refer to the physical form of deafness, and gloss over the ’emotional’ aspects. A person who is physically deaf cannot listen, and that is all to it. However, this person generally has other senses that are heightened. 

When I was doing my MBA, I volunteered for an experiment. Over a two day period, I did not eat. I only consumed water and tea. In addition, I did not speak. Not one word. 

The experience was surreal. For one, since I had decided that I would not eat, I managed my pangs of hunger. I did not rationalise anything consciously, but I managed my own rationalisation somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain. Looking back, I do get a sense of the discipline required to undergo a fasting experience. It sharpens the mind. 

Second, as I mentioned, I did not speak. I used gestures, and I was suddenly acutely conscious of every change in tone in the voices of my friends. I noticed their facial expressions, as well as their gestures. 

As I said, it was surreal. 

The experiment was over long ago, and as I grew in the corporate world, I started to become inordinately fond of the sound of my own voice. My own belief systems, my prejudices, my conviction that I was right often drowned out the voices of those around me. I missed vital cues, more often than not. 

When the stakes are higher, as in the lives of others, this can be tragic. Witness much of the war and destruction that is going on these days. I firmly believe that many of these wanton acts of destruction are the result of an extreme deafness. 

I don’t believe in the God of the religious books, however, there is much wisdom in those who say that we are given two ears & eyes, versus one mouth, for a very good reason. 

To listen and observe more. Not just to hear, but to listen. 

What is the difference between a demagogue who only listens to the sounds of the trumpets in his brain, before he sends his troops to their death, and that of a person suffering from (for example) Parkinsons and who cannot listen to anything but his own voice? 

Who has the answer?


  1. Love this, you always see behind and past the usual.
    What I say is: when we speak, we speak of things we already know. When you listen you will learn something new, and that is a constructive behavior which should be practiced more often. This is not an answer, just an opinion. 🙂

  2. I like how your blog is always thoughtful and meaningful. I did an experiment sort of like that for my senior psychology project. I went a day without my glasses. I kept making people angry because they were waving at me, but I couldn’t see them. (I am about blind without my glasses.) Having sight but not seeing and having ears but not listening is something Jesus talked about a lot. 😉 Your favorite character, I’m sure, but this did remind me of his words. “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:18-10 Great reminder, Rajiv.

    1. Thank you! I have seen your blog recently, but the comment section seems closed.
      That is a very good quote. This is from whom? It seems Biblical…

  3. Very well put. I work with groups of youngsters who are learning about being part of a team, and I always tell them that the most important part of communication is listening and looking.

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