What do we do when the pain feels like too much? People are sick and aren’t getting better. Others are being killed because of prejudice and racism. Children have been abandoned. And millions of families around the world have been forced to leave their homes. The whole world is hurting.
All we are left with is tears and confusion.
I don’t have any answers. For centuries people have been fighting for the answers. And the world still hurts. The overwhelming uncertainty of how to help has kept me silent for a long time. But I’m not satisfied with silence and I hope you aren’t either.
Can we be brave together? Maybe a little bit of courage from each of us could start to heal all the aching.
As I’ve watched people respond to the refugee crisis in Europe and systemic racism in the United States, I’ve noticed one common thread. Everyone has opinions, but no one is ready to listen. When faced with a disagreement, we as humans default to defensive arguing. I’m sure I’ve added to the noise with a comment whose only intention was to lick my own wounds. There’s no true comfort in that.
There’s no healing in hurting someone else.
What if we each took a deep breath and stopped before we started? What if we listened before we responded? What if we asked questions before we answered them and truly listened the answers?
You may not change you mind. You may not understand what people are saying. But by stopping for just a moment to really listen and absorb what someone is saying will tell them that they, as a human, have value.
And isn’t that what we’re all really seeking? I want to know that I matter. You want to know that you matter. We all want to matter. The only way I know how to tell you that is by listening, really hearing what you’re saying.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that listening is one of the bravest things we can do. When I listen, I tell you that what you have to say is just as important as what I have to say. When you listen, you affirm my human-ness. Listening pauses the cycle of hurt.
It’s unrealistic to think we will ever completely understand or agree with each other.
But we can decide that those are not the most important things.
Your hurting matters.
Your experience matters.
And I want to listen.