Monday, October 24, 2016

Are We Listening?

In the midst of debates of policy positions and voting decisions, do we really understand the motivations of people we criticize? While I know I'm never guilty of this (ha ha), I've noticed the way many people characterize others frequently displays a strong sense of ignorance of the nuances and true motivations of differing perspectives.

A friend posted an article that shares a painful perspective of someone who had a late term abortion. He specified that he didn't want people to debate the issue, just to read the story. Rather than trying to listen and understand someone else, many people complained that my friend didn't want people to debate there. They didn't want to listen and understand; they just wanted to argue.

Michael Moore recently claimed Trump supporters are "legal terrorists," dismissing the honest needs and motivations of people who will vote for Trump.

The Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, and All Lives Matter efforts, memes, etc. often don't understand each other and frequently talk past one another.

This only leads to more anger, divisiveness, and ability to dismiss other people and perspectives.

How do we make America kind again? By listening. By truly trying to compassionately understand the perspective and motivations of someone else. We may never agree with them, but if we can better comprehend the complexity of life, we may be less likely to build contempt.

My pastor gave an excellent sermon last month encouraging exactly this. I can't imagine a better way of explaining the importance of seeing people and how to do so. Morgan Guyton wrote a wonderful blog post reminding us that a full range of political perspectives and personalities live in our church, and we need to remember to love them--we're all in this together and usually have the same goals. And then there were two articles that attempt to build compassion for some of the reasons people may vote for Trump despite himself.

So let's us all help each other make American kind again by encouraging listening and seeing each other. Regardless of the election outcome, this is what we need to move forward.

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