Watching the talking heads on Tuesday was borderline entertaining at the onset. Then, it became somewhat troubling. And then completely exhausting. It was the same scene every hour: people would get introduced by the anchor(s), smiles would be exchanged, and then everyone started talking at once. Literally. One person would begin by stating their opinion and then the rest of the panel would chime in uninvited, creating a cacophony resembling schoolyard recess at elementary schools.
This is what we’ve become. We’re increasingly unable to hear others, simply shouting down our neighbors in the name of being right, in the desire to be authoritative, and in the hope that our opinions will be valued over others. I’m guilty of it, too. Try as I might, sometimes I just lack the willpower to listen, to allow others their say and respect the space between us. I wonder how we could be better equipped to do this? Better yet, I wonder if—once equipped—we would have the courage to begin the movement, ourselves? So much discourse today is predicated upon whether or not we agree. It shouldn’t be. Differences of opinion shouldn’t be answered with footsteps leading the other direction; at least not always. When did we lose the ability to hear one another? Did we ever have it?
Listening is hard. But we must. We have to be able to treat one another with dignity, with respect, and with a modicum of self-awareness that ours are not the only opinions worthy of being heard. Whether it’s the small stuff or the great debates, we have to reclaim our ability to listen past the anger to hear the hurt; see past the masks of superiority to view the naked insecurity in our neighbor. People are inherently good, for the most part. We want desperately to belong with one another, we want what’s best for each other. But this world doesn’t set us up for that. Society tells us to dig in, prepare for the onslaught, and use our words and actions as weapons rather than salves. We. Must. Stop. Hurting. Each. Other.
We. Must. Start. Listening.
Christ compels us to turn the other cheek, to take the tree out of our own eye, to abstain from arguing about who is the greatest and to engage in raising up the ‘least of these’. In our current climate, we would do well do tune back in to that message. People are hurting. What can we do to alleviate that? People are feeling forgotten. How can we help them to feel beloved? People are walking away. How can we divert their path and bring them back home?
The masters of this world would have us believe that it is spiraling out of control. I refuse to believe that. I hold hope that we can keep carrying the light of Christ into our communities, that we can keep holding that light for each other, and that we can shine. I believe in God. I believe in us. I believe we can make a difference. Listen to one another; take a moment to have a conversation about what REALLY matters rather than prognosticating the decline of humanity. We’re going to be alright if we open our ears, eyes and hearts to each other and share the love we were so perfectly created to share in our own imperfect ways.