I Want to Listen, But…

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In this divisive political climate, I really want to listen to you.

You have very different opinions than me, but I want to hear you out.

I want to see you as a person with integrity and goodwill, as someone who cares about others and loves this country, and as someone who loves God, the Bible, and the Church with all their heart, mind, and strength.

I want to sit down with you, have a conversation, and listen to what you have to say.

I really do.

But…

…You don’t care about the credibility of my opinion, or other opinions that aren’t yours or those who think like you.

…You won’t acknowledge the flaws and issues in your own logic and understanding.

…You won’t acknowledge your own privilege or biases.

…to even begin this conversation, I would have to drop all my legitimate fears and concerns, because you don’t want to hear them, and I don’t know if that kind of power imbalance makes a legitimate conversation worthwhile or even possible.

…I would have to call the guy “President” and feign respect for people for whom I have none so you won’t accuse me of being “unpatriotic,” an “entitled millennial who’s only upset because she didn’t get her way,” or a “snowflake.”

…if I get too passionate about something, you will probably accuse me of being an “irrational woman,” either to my face or to yourself.

…you will inevitably say “Not all men,” or “Not all white people,” or “Not all Christians” if I even mention certain issues, and you will show that you just don’t understand.

(Not to mention I also live with intense anxiety and hyper-sensitivity and can’t handle too much conflict at once without exploding, collapsing in on myself, or becoming completely exhausted…or all of the above.)

I want to listen, but…you just don’t get it.

I don’t even think you’re trying to get it.

*****

I want to talk. I want to have deep discussions with people who have different opinions than me.

I also want these conversations to be worth our time and energy.

I don’t want to check myself at the beginning of the conversation in order to listen to someone who has no intention of doing the same for me.

That’s not a conversation. That’s me laying myself down for you to trample.

And that’s unacceptable.

I want you to understand that white, male, hetero-, cis-, Christian supremacy is as big of a threat to our country as foreign terrorism, and that cutting programs for the poor harms the most vulnerable in our society as much as faulty infrastructure.

I want you to understand I am not against alternate viewpoints, but I am against viewpoints that promote inequality towards, and hatred and fear of, the most vulnerable in our society.

I want to understand you. I want to hear you out.

But I don’t trust that you’re going to do the same for me.

And as such, I can’t listen right now.

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3 thoughts on “I Want to Listen, But…

  1. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really sound like you want to listen (and I’m not even on “their” side). I suggest that you make yourself vulnerable and listen (if you really want to listen) just as they would need to if they want to listen. Just because more than 90% of the folks on both sides of the issue are not listening to the other side, doesn’t excuse each individual person from making the effort. Stop pre-judging what you already assume the other person will be like (they probably will be, just like the people they try to talk to on your side will not listen to them). Since when it is it righteous to exclude dialogue?

    1. I’ve tried being vulnerable with people who disagree with me. And sometimes, I was met with grace even if we left the conversation having not changed our minds. However, more often than, I am met with animosity at best and my opinion completely disregarded at worst, even after I have tried to listen to their different opinion or even agree with aspects of it.

      And this is me as a white woman. For people of color, especially women, this is especially difficult and even more risky than what I am experiencing.

      So I do want to listen, as I’ve shared. I also want to come to the conversation knowing I’m treated as an equal, as I have tried in the past to regard them. Now, I’m exhausted and flustered with all of it, and it doesn’t feel worth my time.

      It’s not righteous to exclude dialogue. But dialogue hasn’t been happening for the most part. And until it does, I’m trying to conserve my energy for causes actually worth my time.

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