Once again, we have concluded our annual, superb Guest Writer Series. Thank you first to our articulate writers for sharing their experience and expertise. Thank you, also, to each of you, for reading and pondering their perspective. Remember that we never suggest here that we must all agree. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. We believe we are sharpened by the words and wisdom of other people. And most definitely, by the un-likemindedness — or at least by those who run in different circles than self.
I’ve witnessed some troubling things during my time away. Don’t get me wrong — it’s no doubt been a refreshing, life-giving necessary respite. Intentional rest is a prudent practice, friends, one I’m afraid our culture doesn’t encourage or celebrate nearly enough.
But one of the more solidifying observations in my time away as we watched multiple current events unfold, was the growing number of people who no longer recognize that they can gain wisdom from the person who believes differently than they. In fact, sadly, with some of the more contentious decisions as of late, I’ve heard some really loud voices ostentatiously declare that, “If they think that way, then they are @^%#$!#&*^#!!” (insert derogatory character judgment of choice there).
That’s it, isn’t it?
If someone thinks opposite of us, their character is off… as if only one of us ever has the ability to err in our reason.
We allow ourselves to conclude that because another person believes as they do, that they are either (a) inhumane, (b) stupid, or (c) something worse. And once we can conclude they are “worse” — meaning really, “worse than me” — we can justify not only not listening to them but also demonstrably squelching their voice…
“They don’t deserve to have a voice!”
And just like that we’ve become arrogant…
And maybe also worse…
Friends, we can’t encourage enough how important it is to listen to other people. Sit with them. Be fully present. Hear their story.
In recent years I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to sit down with various ends of various perceived spectrums — from the most Covid protectionists to the anti-vaxxers… those who support Roe/those who don’t… those who love Trump/those who hate him… those who support Biden/those who are convinced he has definite dementia… etc. etc. etc.
When I walk into those conversations, my desire is to seek to understand. “Tell me your story,” we say… ”Sincerely share the unfolding of your perspective.”
We each have a story. There’s a reason we think like we do.
When we are present long enough to listen to the story of another, it’s not that the goal is to change one of the respective opinions we each already possess; that’s not it. Listening to another doesn’t need to change our opinion.
But sitting down and showing respect to another by sincerely listening gives us opportunity to grow in our compassion. Compassion for the heart of someone other than self is a beautiful, moral, and ethical response. It is clearly wiser than any arrogance, judgment or something worse.
Hence, as the Intramuralist graciously surges forward this fall in our continued respectful dialogue, let us each be known to be a person marked by their compassion, especially for the un-likeminded. Remember: we don’t have to all agree; such would be a ludicrous expectation. But there is no wisdom in treating any select one poorly.
So grateful to be back. We’ve got things to talk about.