Do You Hear ME?
“I hear you, and I understand that is your point of view.”
Those words do not mean, “You are right,” nor do they mean, “You are wrong.” They mean, “I hear you and can appreciate that you feel that way.” Sounds simple – so why do so many of us find it impossible to say them?
How does it feel to be heard? When someone looks you in the eye, really listens to you, and hears what you have to say, it is a gift. When was the last time you received such a gift? When is the last time you fully gave the gift of your presence?
So often the opinions or beliefs we hold true in our lives spring from experiences we don’t even remember. Was it something that happened to me in childhood, or the way I saw my parents react to a crisis, or was it an idea or a philosophy I adopted just to fit in, that molded my opinions or beliefs?
I was a senior in high school when desegregation became law. In our Florida town, the all-black high school was closed and combined with the white high school, resulting in 700 kids in my graduating class. I felt bad the black kids had lost their identity, their community, and their school. But I didn’t really grasp the extent of their pain because I didn’t have to make the same sacrifices. There was great upheaval and discontent on both sides. That experience still shapes the way in which many of us view race relations all these years later.
It’s time we all stop and examine our own prejudices. What are they and where did they come from? Why do we believe the things we do? Are those beliefs still even relevant?
The time has come to invite Love and Compassion into our lives, and press the pause button on hate, fear, blame, and judgment. Covid-19 doesn’t care what religion, political party, color, or social class we belong to. How quickly the chaos of current events has made us forget that we are all still human beings, vulnerable to a dreadful disease! Yet even now we’re fractured and fractious, shouting each down when we should be seeking common ground.
How does it feel to be heard? How does it feel to be appreciated? Can you give that gift to another before seeking it for yourself?
Swim out beyond the battering waves of who’s right or wrong and differing points of view, to the calm of open water and an open mind. Don’t block; don’t “unfriend”; don’t hang up, cut off, dismiss, or disrespect. Just listen. Experience. Feel.
It’s a leaky boat we’re on, but we’re all on it together. Unless we can learn to listen to each other with open hearts and minds, we’ll never make it to safe harbor.