Before I begin the second post in this series, let me disclose my lack of qualifications as a writer for this topic. Just a few days ago, I got into a shouting match with another person on Facebook about a political post. After we both left Facebook, we both unfriended each other. I think we were in a race to see who could unfriend the other person the fastest. In retrospect, I was appalled at myself for my behavior. So in this series of posts, I am trying to teach the very thing that I need to learn.
The most important part of discussing politics, or anything else controversial is not the discussing at all. It is the listening. Consider this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, “Deep listening is at the foundation of Right Speech. If we cannot listen mindfully, we cannot practice Right Speech. No matter what we say, it will not be mindful, because we’ll be speaking only our own ideas and not in response to the other person.” Good listening involves more than just waiting your turn to speak. It involves listening to the point that you have heard and understood what the other person has said. You should consider what they have said and see if your point of view is still right for you. Listening to someone else’s point of view can help us grow and mature as human beings. Often times listening in this way , can help us solidify our own viewpoint and give us more understanding of our own position.
When I was on my walk tonight, I was working up a sweat while climbing a really big hill. I was also thinking about how active listening can be physically uncomfortable, just like I was feeling at that moment. It is often not easy to take in another person’s point of view when we feel our values are being attacked. This is when I will remind myself that positive change is more likely to happen with active listening and compassionate discussion. Maybe I will be able to build up my listening muscle, one conversation at a time.