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  • Reverend James Squire

The Need For Listening To Others

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

The inability to listen is a problem that confronts all communities. Compromise has become a dirty word. Too many people are only interested in winning, not understanding different points of view. When Joe Biden came to our school to have a debate with Arlen Specter, their discourse emphasized a big problem in Washington. Nobody goes out to dinner together with members of the opposite party. The Republicans and Democrats exist in armed camps. They need to take a lesson from Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, two legends of the American political landscape. They were a combative pair during the day. But after intense debate during the day, they would call each other and ask the question, “Is it five o’clock yet?”, their signal for the cocktail hour even if they weren’t planning to have cocktails. It was a signal to leave the business of the day aside and talk as one passionate person to another about anything in life but politics. Any community needs to develop relationships first and then let the business of the day follow.

There is a tendency today to demonize others. When will we learn that hate and love reside in all of us? I would call our drive to judge original sin. It is part of our humanity. The more you deny a feeling, the stronger it grows. I believe there is good and evil in the world. We know it when we see it. But let’s not be hasty to make judgments about either side of those two moral descriptions. Randy Pausch in his Last Lecture made an interesting point that changed my thinking regarding listening to others. He states, “...that there is good in everyone. Sometimes you have to wait to discover it, but if you hang in there, you will”.(Pausch 2008) It has helped me to avoid going to a negative place with others too quickly when we are working to solve a difficult issue.

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