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Can You Hear Me?

Posted by admin on July 16, 2013

ear.jpgNo gift is more valuable than the honor we give to another person by listening. As I look around at the world, and as I follow social media, I realize again that very few of us are willing to give that gift.

The Trayvon  Martin case is but the latest example of the hardening of minds and hearts. People across the board, whether religious or secular, black or white, male or female, are quick to express opinions and post their views. We speak out of our own experience, as of course we must. But we speak without knowledge.

Almost two thousand years ago, James, a brother of Jesus of Nazareth, admonished his followers to be “swift to hear and slow to speak.” Would that we could take those words to heart.

Why listen?

  1. If we listen to another, we must, of necessity, focus on the other. We pay her heed. We take notice of her.
  2. If we take notice of another, we offer him the dignity and worth that is his right.
  3. When we pay heed to another, we learn to understand him.
  4. In understanding the life and perspective of another, we acknowledge that we are not God. We do not have all the answers or all the insight into life.
  5. By accepting that truth may not be exclusive to us, we learn to love those who are different.

Listening is oil that enables human interaction to move smoothly. It is wine that cleanses the wounds of injustice and bitterness. Unless we listen to each other, we only lurch from scar to scar.

Writers, of all people, must be listeners before they dare take up their pens. How can we write truth, when we cannot hear? How can we demand an audience when we reject the experience of so many? How can we speak before we gain knowledge?

I am not, myself, the best listener. But in all the heat generated by the not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, I find myself making a commitment. I will learn to listen.

Can you hear me?

 

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