The Right to Listen

I confess I am a supporter of free speech. Yes, just like the rest of us in our Nation, I like the idea of being able to express my views, my opinions, my feelings on particular ideas be they political, social, religious or otherwise. When I disagree with someone or something, with a law, policy, or action I like to freedom to speak to it and when I agree with the same I enjoy the same privilege.
I also confess over the last many months I have become more and more discouraged, disheartened, and perhaps even cranky. I own up to the fact that when I find myself in disagreement with another point of view sometimes I do not listen so well. I often find myself spending more time plotting and planning my response to who I disagree with than I do really listening to what they are saying. In other words, sometimes I am so bound and determined I am going to disagree with them; it would not matter whether what they said made sense or not, I was going to prove them wrong!
I find that continually true in the current political climate today, and I would say as a leader in the church it is just as evident there on particular issues as well. What disheartens and disappoints me so is the unwillingness to listen, to be so dead set against something or someone that we would choose to shout them down rather than actually hear what they have to say. Often we spend so much time convinced that they have absolutely nothing of value to offer us, it would not matter if they did, and we would not admit it anyway.
I have recently encountered and read comments related to our current President and Administration. It saddens me to hear everything from likening him to Hitler to threats of civil war because folks do not like what he is trying to do for our country. I have no doubt he will make mistakes, already has I am sure. Not unlike any president we have had in the past or president we will have in the future.
We went from a Republican President to a Democrat with very different views and visions about where our Nation was, is, and what direction we should be heading and how to get there. There is no doubt about that. I also have no doubt that both men, both administrations, love and loved their country, and both administrations did and are doing what they believe and believed to be in the best interest of our country, agree with them or not, mistakes or not.
As I read blogs, news, and listen to the news I am wondering if we ought to add an amendment right after the Right to Free Speech. I am still working on its title, perhaps, “The Right to Be Heard,” or “The Right to Listen,” or “The Right to Be Listened To.” It seems to me, and I believe depending who is talking and who is not listening, it happens on both sides of the aisle, we can be likened to the little kid who has his fingers in his ears all the while saying, “lalalalalalalalalala” so as not to hear what is being said and disrupting the conversation so that anyone who does want to listen can’t.
It feels like a country fueled by phobia rather than hope, fueled by intolerance rather than justice, fueled by malice rather than kindness and mercy, by fear rather than love.
Obviously I am but one voice of many in my world, but perhaps a voice too long quiet. I will continue to be in prayer for my President and his administration, for our country, and all of its citizens as well as our world. And I will persist with the ideal of not only speaking freely but freely listening and to seeking to understand those who come from a different place than I. May justice roll down, may peace abound, and may love be the rule rather than the exception in all our lives.

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One Response to “The Right to Listen”

  1. Jim Isaac Says:

    Kent: I’m a right wing nut job and I couldn’t find anything in your blog that I disagree with. The last three presidents have been called or compared to Hitler.
    When I went to my congressman’s town hall meeting I was thretened with physical harm by two union members wearing their union member shirts.
    If someone who I disagree with politically is willing to agree that both sides need to respect each other’s opinions, then we can make progress. Like most other people, I also need to tone down my rehtoric.
    Blessings,
    Jim Isaac

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