Lend me your ears…

We all have ears to hear but we struggle to use them to listen. You might think hearing and listening are one in the same but the truth is they’re not. I can hear everything you say but not listen to a single word of it.

This isn’t because I’m rude, although I have my moments, it’s because I’m human. It’s kind of what we do! We want to be heard yet we seldom lend our ears to others in an effort to gain understanding. This is a problem that needs to be confronted if we ever want to see real change and progress.

So often people complain about things, it might sound like I’m doing that now, without offering any real solutions.

I’d like to suggest that the problem is pretty obvious, if you’re open to see it, and the solution just as clear.

The problem is I don’t really give a shit what you have to say! True story! At the same time, I’m writing this blog so I want you to give a shit what I have to say!

Truth be told I don’t feel that way about everyone. In fact, some of you reading this actually know me personally and I do give a shit. For the sake of this conversation, let’s. assume I don’t!

Why don’t I?

That’s simple, I don’t know you so I don’t care about you! If I do know you, that’s not a guarantee I’ll care either!

There are, however, people in my life who I do care about and who I do want to listen to. Do you see where I’m going yet? Stick with me.

You see, I care what they have to say because I care about them. They add value to my life and, I hope, I add value to theirs. Because of this if I didn’t have them, I might not feel the same. If they weren’t somewhere I wanted them to be I would miss them.

Obviously we all reserve these feelings for only certain people in our lives.

Let me paint a picture for you: if your obnoxious uncle who doesn’t handle his 7&7’s so well and always ends up telling racist jokes didn’t show up to thanksgiving dinner, it just wouldn’t be the same. But! If Bob the conservative with his MAGA hat and pussy grabber t-shirt says one more thing about a witch hunt you want to throat punch him.

What’s the difference between Bob and Uncle Lightweight? Whether you like to admit it or not Uncle lightweight matters to you and Bob really doesn’t.

To take it a step further, you probably don’t even know much about Bob except for what you disagree about. If you took the time to have a conversation with Bob, you might come to find out how he came to some of those conclusions. You might get some insight into how Bob thinks, and maybe just maybe, even though you disagree you might start to give a shit about Bob too!

We live in a very self centered and self absorbed culture. This is coming from a guy who’s social media tendencies are compared to his 12 year old daughter, who he also takes more selfies than! That also, is a true story!

I came to this conclusion because I had my own Bob. I couldn’t stand him because we could never see eye to eye. I couldn’t understand how he could be so closed minded and ignorant. I couldn’t? No, I didn’t want to understand. I didn’t care about his upbringing, his family life, hell, I didn’t even know his last name.

Then one day I saw Bob visibly upset and shaken. I wasn’t being sympathetic, I already told you I though he was a dick, I was hoping he just got dumped or his house flooded. I asked what was wrong and Bob opened up to me about a serious situation in his life. I was taken aback, considering our history, that Bob we be so open with me.

Bob was angry. Now I knew why. Now it made sense. Now, Bob wasn’t just an opinion I didn’t like or a shitty red hat. Bob was a person with issues and struggles just like mine. With insecurities and fears just like all of us.

I was fortunate that my nosiness gave me this opportunity but I’ve willingly ignored opportunities like this in the past, and since, for the same reason.

If you’ve lived life on this planet you’ve probably had a similar situation.

BUT! And this is a big BUT!

What if instead of them happening by chance, or ignorance, we were intentional in understanding those we disagreed with? What if we listened to understand and not to respond? What if we treated the Bob’s in our lives more like Uncle Lightweight?

Better still, what if we did it on purpose?

There’s a saying from someone far smarter than I that says the people crazy enough to change the world and the ones that actually do it!

I’d like to admit that I’m that crazy! Not crazy enough to think I can do it by myself but crazy enough to think that if we all gave Bob a chance we might find out he’s not half bad. In turn, we might establish deeper connections built on mutual respect rather than mutual ideals and beliefs!

Relationships are generally built on the things that bring us together, sure! But, relationships that last are strengthened by the things we don’t allow to tear us apart!

So what do you say? I know Bob’s a dick but maybe if you become buddies, he’ll let you troll his conservative friends!