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Social Change

To Be Heard – A Retrospective of Us

 November 8, 2019

By  David N Johnson

We don’t listen anymore. Or was it that we never really listened in the first place? I distinctly remember my mom telling me not to do one thing or another while growing up and doing it anyway. If I had only listed to her wisdom then, I wouldn’t have gone through half the stupid stuff I did as a child.

Is it my fault that my kids do the same to me? They ignore good old dad and his wisdom (my word not theirs) for the tried and true method of learning by running headfirst into the wall. Why didn’t they believe me when I said it was there?

We need to listen more. We need to open up, quiet our thoughts, and listen. It doesn’t cost anything to do it. It’s not a luxury item that can only be bought by the wealthy elite. It’s free. Anybody can do it, yet nobody ever really stops to listen to what is going on around them.

Sure, we hear a few sounds that cut through the noise that is life, but how much can we hear when all we do is listen to our internal dialogue? A dialogue so loud it drowns everything else out?

We’d never admit that we don’t listen. That we’d rather listen to the internal narration of our lives than the act of living it. There is just so much noise going on in our heads that we can’t seem to grasp what others are saying.

Is it that we’re so self-important that nothing else compares? Is there truly nothing worth listening to? No, I don’t think we think that. However, our actions say otherwise. If we could learn to quiet our minds enough to hear what is going on, then we’d be much further along than we currently are.

If only we could learn to listen rather than letting the words of others float away just after they are spoken. Words are supposed to have weight, not float upwards like a helium-filled balloon that the wind wrestled away from the grasping hands of a toddler.

Listening is hard but rewarding. On top of the noise in our heads, our biases get in the way. We tend to attach our own meaning to the words used by others instead of taking in the spirit of what is being said. We miss the true meaning of what we’re being told by breaking apart the sentences and splicing in our own words like some mad scientist combining the DNA of a giraffe and a house cat. Sure, it sounds cool, but we’re messing with the intended order of things.

Listening is a verb. It requires our attention. We must resist the urge to let our minds wander. We have to reach out and grasp what others are saying without attaching our version of their meaning. Instead, we have to learn to accept the words received as they were given.

That’s all we want anyway. To be heard. To be listened to. We want the world to understand what we’re saying and the meaning behind our communications. If that indeed is what we all want, and it is, then why can’t each of us strive to listen to others more intently?

Make being heard a possibility for others, and others will make it a possibility for us. Together, we can make being listened to a priority.

David N Johnson


David N Johnson

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