The power of listening without fear

The pandemic of intolerance that stems from fear

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Like many people around the globe, I am saddened to see how so many of us behave as a result of the pandemic disease that has marred the world. For centuries this plague has gone on, although we have never really found the need to unite in an effort to eliminate it once and for all. It is highly toxic, yet this disease only belongs in the realm of the mind, created and fuelled by our egos. Intolerance of the others is our Bubonic Plague. Because we see the world only through our egotistical eyes where “I” am more important than “you” and “we” are greater than “them”.  But who are the others? They are anyone who dares to be different, anyone who we perceive as a threat to our opinions, values and way of life. “The world is divided by those who think they are right”. Period!

It is a tragedy that when one of us says “I can’t breathe”, some of us say “Stop complaining about your breathing! My knee is aching from the pressure I have to put on your neck.” We are so engrossed in fear for our lives – even in times of peace and plenty – that we refuse to listen to the other. When did we stop our humanity? When did we become human fearings?

Whether it is at home within our family, among our small circle of friends, our community or out in the world, sometimes all that is needed is to listen. This is not just through the organ of hearing but with an open heart and mind; without judgment; without fear. If we seek to understand what the other is trying to convey, we might realise that there is no need for us to fear. When a person says “I can’t breathe” all they are saying to us is that we should pay attention to their vital needs. They are not invalidating our need to breathe as well. 

It seems like when we hear a story we have the need to be the hero – or more likely the victim – of it. So we high jack the cry for help of the other and rewrite the story with ourselves at the centre. Perhaps it is time to leave our fears to one side and just listen.

I have faith in my children – and all our children – to be more compassionate listeners than my own generation. I live in hope that they will know how to listen without fear.

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