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Reclaiming the Skill of Listening

Posted by Wendy Pratt on OP2er @ 2:45 PM

I grieve when I see the ever-growing divisions in our country.  I have spent some time pondering what we can do as Christians to bring healing and understanding to our communities, and I offer some humble suggestions. 

Too often when we listen, it is for the purpose of figuring out our response.  We live in a society that has decided that if you don’t share my political views, you are my enemy.  Too many people think that the only reason to talk to someone with whom we disagree is to convince them that they are wrong and we are right.

We need to reclaim the skill of listening.  Our listening should not be motivated by the desire to refute, convince, or shutdown the opposition.  Rather, we need to listen to understand.  We need to listen to find common ground.  We need to listen and affirm that we are hearing one another and recognize that the concerns of those with whom we disagree are just as real to them as our concerns are to us. 

In a society where it is increasingly difficult to discern the facts and motivations behind a news story, we need to look for and acknowledge the fears behind the news and the stories that we claim as true and factual. 

Rather than beating one another up with our trusted news sources, we need to connect with one another on the basis of our common emotions:  our hopes, our fears, our concerns.  In listening to people talk about the election, I have come to realize that many went into the voting booths feeling fear.  Many were voting against someone, not for someone.  Our fears may have been different, but that doesn’t mean they were less real or less important.  I may have come to a different conclusion as to which candidate was best, but that doesn’t mean we all didn’t struggle hard with our decision and seek to elect the candidate we thought was best in addressing our particular fears and the needs of the country.

The next time you come across someone with a different perspective, seek to understand.  Ask questions, listen hard, not to convince them to change, but to understand and acknowledge their feelings.  Listen to understand, and if we can understand one another: our fears, our hopes, our dreams, we will find common ground, and we can continue our journey with the strength and perspectives we all have to offer, together finding ways to respect and address the needs of one another.     

 

 

 

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