This entry has been testing my writing skills for some time. I’m troubled by how many use social media to speak “At Each Other”, instead of “WITH Each Other”. This has become a common practice, from our country’s leaders (both parties) to those that report the news and celebs from all walks of life. It is very easy to send one’s chest pounding feelings over twitter other such means.
As a lifelong learner and educator, this has brought me to some inner wrestling of emotions. My parents and grandparents taught me to be a good listener. Whether they knew it or not, they were teaching me the art of caring empathy. My grandfather’s quote always made me pause before talking: “No one will know how smart or dumb you are until you open your mouth”. I guess that works with social media too.
It is easy to go down that rabbit hole of criticism and judgment. People somehow feel smarter when being negative, throwing shade on others. Regardless of your political views, there's plenty to be frustrated with our leaders currently. Beyond listening, there is a missing element of asking WHY one feels that way.
So I'm personally choosing the path of going back to listening and speaking WITH empathy. How's that going? Well, it's early, yet refreshing. To share the power of the entire conversation is a challenge. I must throttle back on jumping in with my two cents worth, to better understand what is being said. It is a journey to speak with empathy.
There have been a couple of encounters with people that I care dearly about, who have polar opposite views. Previously I would avoid those views like a plague with those who in the far side of their beliefs. That is definitely not speaking WITH someone. The value of knowing that no one is trying to change others views, but asking WHY with empathy. Speaking at someone takes on a bit of a mob mentality, that most would never endorse.
I truly believe most people in our country will help others in need. Be it face-to-face or other means, regardless of their political views. We all need to cherish this caring skill. Human nature generally wants to see the good in people. Listening with empathy is definitely helping others.
As frustrated as I am with those that loudly speak hurtfully at others, I can do nothing about it. However, I can be a better listener, as I speak WITH my family, friends, students, colleagues or anyone. As we do a better job speaking with each other, maybe others will do the same. Pause before you speak or post.