In a world filled with fear, a raging war in proximity in Europe and rather miserable economic prospects, it feels like the rush for fun is far more tantalizing than having a deep and potentially draining conversation. In watching the Netflix docu-series on the French rockstar, Johnny Hallyday, “Beyond Rock”, I was struck by one sentence where he resented the notion that no one took him seriously. After spending a life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll (the epitome of such), you wonder how he could be offended by that thought. Married five times (to four women), he certainly didn’t take the institution of marriage too seriously. When he met Nathalie Baye, an actress nominated for 10 Cesars and winner of four, it was possibly the most serious relationship. It lasted four years and they had a daughter together. Yet, they never married.
It was the beginning of his association with Michel Berger where Hallyday seemed to “deepen.” However, in the documentary, you definitely don’t get the feeling that he ever opened a book or regularly conversed with intellectuals. I remain a fan of some of his music, but I would raise an eyebrow to think he might be an icon worth emulating. Yes he worked hard; yes he had his challenges; but in the world I’m trying to encourage with Dialogos, I know that it’s going to take more than working hard at having fun. It’s not about either/or as I absolutely enjoy having fun, laughing and dancing. Emotions are vital, but we can’t just rely on pure emotions to get us through. We also need facts, figures and intelligence to wade through life’s harder questions and challenges. Importantly, I am convinced having more deep and meaningful conversation can be not only entirely enriching and enlivening, it can help create a more sustainable society.
When one prefers to merely have fun, laugh and dance, I don’t think one can resent being called lightweight. It’s a choice. And in a morose environment, I get it: having fun seems like the “best” choice. However, I believe we need to lean in, engage and be accountable. I consider it a responsibility to make the people around me better. To do this, I need to bring knowledge and analysis to the conversation. Thus, besides just having fun, I have to do more research and reading (for example, more long-form articles and books). And then it means taking the time to talk to strangers and having the determination to listen to and share with people who have alternative viewpoints.
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