Like everyone, I hold some very deep feelings, beliefs, ideas and opinions on things. Even though I consider myself open-minded, transparent and malleable I still constantly find myself struggling to accept ideas or principles that conflict with my own. I struggle to accept that there is really another way to see an issue or idea. When I don’t agree its easy to dismiss the person along with their idea.
I don’ think I am alone in this. I know you have had the same struggle.
I heard an interview the other day with Jerry Springer. You know the guy who hosts the talk show that is so crazy that you can’t change the channel because you don’t want to miss the train wreck. Yeah, that guy. Well, he was explaining why he feels he has been so successful for 26 years. He said that it’s all about letting people tell their story. The people he has on his show have never been picked for anything. They are the outcasts and the forgotten people. They are the ones that most of us, including me, tend to dismiss. He lets them talk and he listens. This often results in an explosion of emotion. He said that it’s remarkable that when the lights go out and the boxing gloves come off, back stage most of them thank him for listening no matter what craziness happened on stage. He then reflected that except for a few lucky opportunities he would be just like them. So why not just give them the chance to be heard.
I have a friend from college who has been a constant in my life for over 20 years. Since college, we have never lived in the same town but I couldn’t imagine life without our weekly and sometimes even daily conversations. We don’t always see eye to eye but we respect each other deeply. We connected originally because we had both grown up overseas in countries that had significant political turmoil during our teen years and we had the same college major which often put us in the same classes. If you were to label us you would put him in the conservative box and me in the liberal one. But those classifications are extremely unfair to both of us. Through the years we have talked and listened to each other out of respect to the point where I think we both can say we have at the very least come to a point of understanding the other’s views. In some cases, we changed our minds or our conversations have helped us dig deeper into the what’s and whys of our beliefs so we could better communicate them.
Last week I shared a conversation that I had with Nora, a Greek Orthodox leader in Jerusalem, on my Kinetic Village Vlog on YouTube. She is someone who lives in an epicenter of conflict in our world and it was a privilege to sit and listen to her. Her perspective comes from a very different place than me, she has some observations that really challenged me but ultimately a spirit that is worth replicating as I consider how I struggle to accept and respect people.
It drives me crazy to see the way we demonize each other on TV or in Social Media. Instead of looking for an opportunity to learn and grow, we are looking for a way to knock out our competition. But I don’t see these platforms as a way to build a wall around the right way of thinking. I see them as a place to actually see and hear the world from a different perspective. A place to listen and speak so that together we can build a deeper respect of each other. That’s why I shared my conversation with Nora on my vlog and that’s why I am writing this today. But alas, the reality is that too often these platforms just amplify the struggle that we all have every day.
So we have a choice:
1 – Live in the echo chamber that fortifies your beliefs so you can defend yourself against the onslaught of bad ideas.
2 – Unplug step out of the rat race and just life a peaceful life while the world does what it does.
3 – Step into the mess, listen and learn first then speak so that we can live and learn together.
Author: Andy Yardy