Listening to another’s story

It’s been a challenging week, hasn’t it? The earthquake in Nepal…Bruce Jenner’s interview…the protests and riots in Baltimore…the penalty-phase in the Boston Marathon shooting trial…the Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality…

Are we listening to each other’s stories? Really listening?

Unfortunately, sometimes the news stories don’t help us listen. News bites are short and don’t have the time to give us the background and context that would help us understand. And…sadly…pictures and stories of violence attract more attention than positive ones.

I’m a straight white woman who has never been homeless…never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from…not been shot…never been stopped by the police…. I am married (happily) to my husband who is bisexual and have some family members who deal with gender identity issues and sexual orientation issues…but those issues are not mine.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of that as I’ve been watching some of the coverage about Baltimore…and reading updates from some of my friends who live in the area.

I do not condone the rioting and looting that is occurring. That is no way to solve a problem; it only creates more issues.

But what happens when people feel unheard? If that continues long enough…and problems go unsolved…something will eventually give.

It’s not just Baltimore.

There are far too many stories of unprovoked traffic stops…of injustices…of disproportionate jail terms. Too many situations where black people are killed while white people in similar situations are given more leniency. Too much ease in throwing around the terms “thugs” and “crooks.”

It’s too easy to not listen to stories…especially in times when there is so much destruction and lawlessness. But unless we are willing to listen to those who have been trying to peacefully bring about change, those situations will continue to happen.

Those who break the law do need to understand that there are consequences. But all of us must also understand that our lives are interconnected. What affects one person…one community…affects us all. A quote I saw recently says it all: “One of the most powerful things we can do to bring healing is to listen to each other.”

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