It’s been a really crappy day. More than three hours on the phone with my Internet provider trying to get the router to work. A litany of work problems ninety-nine of them and the bitch ain’t one (it’s a song lyric). And I feel, as a friend of mine says, like ass.
Not like a nice ass, either–you know, in jeans or yoga pants or–if you’re so inclined–football pants or a firefighter’s outfit. No, I’m talking a big, nasty ass, like Charles Barkley’s maybe. That’s how I feel–like Charles Barkley’s ass.
So when I finally got on the Internet and saw the latest in the sewage pipe of cutesy, insipid memes from Occupy Democrats–this one basically implying that Republicans are down with the KKK, my response was a little snippier than normal.
Or, as I put it in a Facebook post when I finally got back online–I’m had a really crappy day. If you want to convince me you’re right politically, don’t talk down to me or at me or through me–as if I’m the problem but I’m not in the room.
If you want me to listen to you, don’t lead with condemnation or condescension. Lead by pretending you care.
Lead by listening.
Periodically, I manage to actually, really listen. And I think we need more of that.
St. Francis prayed that he might seek to not so much to be understood, as to understand.
A lot of people want to be understood these days. They demand it. They get angry when they aren’t understood. And there’s value in that.
But we also need more people who understand.
As a baseball fan, it got old, watching the sport shut down every few years. When things broke down, there were a lot of leaders loudly proclaiming their side. From their point of view, they were unalterably right. Their side needed to be proclaimed.
And trust vanished.
Over the past 15 years or so, things have changed. The two sides started to listen to each other. They didn’t give in. They didn’t became shills for the other side. But they realized there were places where interests aligned. It didn’t happen overnight. It felt uncomfortable–and it caused friction with in the ranks. But it did change.
And now baseball is more successful than ever.
Listening isn’t giving in. It’s not violating your conscience. It’s not becoming one of them. It’s listening. And it’s becoming less and less a luxury.
Oh master grant that I may never seek so much to be understood as to understand.
Great wisdom lies that way.