In this period of cacophonous town hall meetings and bombardment of the senses with advertising, social media, and rhetoric, we as a society seem to have lost the art and discipline of listening. Even if we hear voices amid the noise, it is difficult to open ourselves to whatever may be said rather than pre-judging or selectively listening. Yet if we cannot listen to each other, how can we understand or learn from each other much less work together toward the common good? And if we neglect to practice active listening, how much are we missing in other contexts as well? What waits to be heard not just within our relationships but within our hearts, within our souls, and within our world?
The fundamental premise of compassionate listening is that every party to a conflict is suffering, that every act of violence comes from an unhealed wound. And that our job as peacemakers is to hear the grievance of all parties and find ways to tell each side about the humanity and suffering of the other. We learn to listen with our “spiritual ear,” to discern and acknowledge the partial truth in everyone—particularly those with whom we disagree. We learn to stretch our capacity to be present to another’s pain.
~ from “Just Listen” by Leah Green in “Yes!”, Winter, 2002
Being prophetic means, first and foremost, being a dangerous listener. ~ Robert J. Wicks
how strange this silence would seem
without these crickets
here to explain
~ William Michaelian, in Akitsu Quarterly, Summer, 2015