My family jokes that I’m “noise sensitive.” They may be right. I appreciate music and I’d actually benefit if I listened to more… but (as I mentioned in my post a couple of weeks ago) when it comes to noise in general, loud is not usually my friend.
Unfortunately, loud has become synonymous with our culture. It’s no longer just the volume of the device we’re listening on, it’s the intensity of the messenger. Sitting down and learning from one another or having a discussion from differing perspectives is beginning to feel like a lost art form. I find myself reading the news instead of watching it because I don’t want to have to filter through the agendas and decibels. Anyone?
Of course, in the final days of a Presidential election, we know that it’s loud on a national level. But even in our own relationships, most of us can think of plenty of places where conversations are one of two extremes: really loud or completely avoided. I’m certainly not advocating for any political conversations over our turkey this year, but maybe a few days later… I’d hate to think that a conversation is shut down simply because someone is unwilling to hear a perspective different from the one they hold.
Where have we accidentally gone as a culture?
Better yet, how do we resolve this unhealthy pattern?
I was recently talking with a friend of mine, Brandon Wilkes. As a man who helps people find common ground, he used a phrase that bears repeating. We must be willing to embrace the “and.”
What does he mean? Well, imagine if we each decided to walk into a conversation believing that two seemingly different truths could be possible at the same time. Instead of assuming that my opinion is right and, therefore, any other opinion is wrong, what if I considered that there’s value to my opinion and that there could also be value to hearing someone else’s differing perspective? What if we humbled ourselves to be learners? … listeners?
It’s not that either police are good or police are bad. It’s not that either all Republicans are good or all Republicans are bad. It’s not that Democrats are all good or Democrats are all bad. And for most of us, we may be at the point of believing that all politicians are bad… even though that’s not true, either!
As a mom of two college students, I’m acutely aware that if I limit my talking points to a one-way conversation, I’m doing a huge disservice to the next generation. If wisdom is to be imparted to counteract what’s being promoted on college campuses, I must actually be willing to listen, learn, and engage… not just roll my eyes.
Do you know what is true? All of us have good qualities and bad qualities. All of us have had different life experiences and influences that shape us. Even when someone’s views are in opposition to our faith, an unwillingness to listen renders us ineffective to be part of the conversation.
This week, when an opportunity to talk with someone with a different viewpoint comes about, I encourage you to ask questions and learn. And if you don’t have anyone with a differing view in your circle, consider why that may be… and ask someone new into your circle. You’ll be amazed at how God will grow you through that one act.
Want to hear my full conversation with Brandon Wilkes? Check out my podcast.