One of the problems that we need to overcome as humans is our inability to listen. I guess that is probably stated incorrectly. It isn’t that us humans are unable to listen, we simply make the choice not to listen. You might think that this phenomenon came into existence within the last four years. You would be wrong. Way before political partisanship, way before debates, where even the audience can’t listen; way before the modern era, humans have struggled to listen. Adam and Eve didn’t always listen. Abraham and Sarah didn’t always listen. Moses didn’t always listen. David didn’t always listen. Peter didn’t always listen. Listening is a journey and very few of us are naturally good at successfully taking this journey. Listening requires a transformation of the heart. For being a good listener isn’t something that you do, it is someone you are.
God knew that listening would be vitally important to our existence. How do we know this to be true? Simply look in the mirror. God has given you two ears and one mouth for a reason. You are to listen twice as much as you speak. Yet, somewhere, somehow, someway we have been convinced that to be heard is way more important than any amount of listening.
And it is a funny thing, our propensity not to listen. We spend millions of dollars each and every year on polling data in order to better listen to what people like. We want to know what political candidates, TV shows and streaming services people like. All of this information is used by political parties and industries to inform their decisions about platforms and products. We have created algorithms that allow social media to listen to our likes and keystrokes so that our preferences will dictate precisely to what we will be exposed. Your TV, your phone, your house and your car are all listening to you. Yet, with all of this emphasis and acceptance of listening all around us, it seems as if we are getting worse at listening to each other.
Maybe within this very confession our answer is revealed. Maybe we only listen to each other if we can profit by that listening in some way, shape or form? Listening to simply better understand or to make a deeper connection in some way, with someone, is the very thing to which we all truly struggle. Listeners with no economic or political agenda, other than to better understand someone else or something else, is who we are called to be. This kind of listening takes practice and intention. No baby comes out of the womb already good at this kind of listening.
One of the consequences of not listening to each other is that nobody is ever truly being heard. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be valued. Everyone wants to know that others not only acknowledge their existence, but also respect their points of view. Yet, if nobody is listening, nobody is being heard. If nobody is being heard, than everybody will simply speak louder and louder. If everyone simply speaks louder and louder, than it will be increasingly hard for anyone to be heard. Thus, people, out of frustration, will start to shout even louder and louder. And on and on this vicious cycle continues. Life becomes nothing but noise. Noise to which nobody is listening.