Stop yelling, start listening.

It’s difficult. It’s really, really difficult for me to listen to someone who thinks abortion should be illegal. Or to listen to someone who thinks anyone should be able to download and print a 3D gun. Or to listen to someone who thinks vaccines cause autism and are a conspiracy.

It’s frustrating; it makes me angry; it makes me sad. I usually end up thinking in my head “what is WRONG with this human being?!?!”

But. We have to stop yelling. We have to stop half listening or fake listening. I am guilty of this. I admit it. I consider myself to be a well-informed, well-educated, compassionate woman – but I know in the past I have said I was listening to someone with opposing views to mine – but I really wasn’t. It made me too frustrated, too upset.

But I, we, have to REALLY start to listen to those we disagree with. Our world seems so inflammatory right now. If you watch the news – it makes it seem as if the world is black and white and everyone is at war with the other side. And it seems like we are getting more and more polarized in our views. But the world is so much more complex than that. I really feel like we need to listen to try to understand our opponents before we are so quick to dismiss them. Because all of this yelling at each other is not working.

Aren’t we all human underneath? Don’t we all want a roof over our heads, food to eat, a good life for our children, good health, to practice whatever spirituality we believe and to love whomever we please? Shouldn’t we all get to do this without fear of retaliation? I think it’s possible. We have to listen and try to understand to get there.

Now, all this to say it definitely doesn’t mean I (we) will agree with those we are trying to understand. But maybe we could have a calm discussion instead of ignoring and yelling.

I listened to a great TED talk the other day about this.

One of my favorite quotes was by Zachary Wood. What a brilliant mind.

“It’s my belief that to achieve progress in the face of adversity we need a genuine commitment to gaining a deeper understanding of humanity. I’d like to see a world with more leaders who are familiar with the depths of the views of those they deeply disagree with, so that they can understand the nuances of everyone they’re representing. I see this as an ongoing process involving constant learning and I’m confident that I’ll be able to add value down the line if I continue building empathy and understanding through engaging with unfamiliar perspectives.”

Photo taken in St Simons, GA.