Terroists. Police. Social Groups. Protestors. News and Media. Sorrow. Sadness. It’s all loud. It yells… pay attention to me! We hear it and feel it loudly. Sometimes it’s so loud you literally cannot speak. And sometimes, not speaking is exactly what we need.
Somehow we’ve grown accustomed to an over-saturation of information. Our phones are little computers with notifications that ding when there’s anything newsworthy happening. Incidents no longer happen without being recorded on a cell phone and shared for all to see. We live on a constant live feed. Updating by the second.
News rooms can’t crank out information fast enough.
Politicians can’t hide truths fast enough.
Regular everyday people, like us, think that we should comment, speak, act, do, respond to tragedy, big news, and anything that scrolls across our page that we feel is a social injustice.
We feel entitled to our opinion. We need to share it. Because we feel that if we don’t share our opinion we are not making a difference. We are avoiding the opportunity for affecting change in our social circles.
I have been blessed to be friends with and associate with many people- in many walks of life. My friends are white middle class families. My friends are white low income families. My friends are CEO’s. My friends are business owners and inventors. My friends are black. My friends are gay. My friends are in bi-racial marriages. My friends are living with their life partners in committed gay relationships. My friends are upstanding, hard working, middle class black families. My friends are Indian, African, European, German. Red, Yellow, Black and White…
Each of my friends has experienced life in a way I have not. My childhood boyfriend came from a single mother household and had an african american father, he has had a totally different life experience than I have. I worry for his safety even though he works an upstanding job, is married to a white woman, and is a contributing citizen. My husband is not a police officer but works with officers in a close environment. I worry for his safety. Even though he is a white male working an upstanding job, married to a white woman, and living a standard middle class lifestyle. I worry for the acceptance and safety of my gay friends. That they may experience violence aimed at them. I worry… but I don’t speak.
Now, many would call me a coward. If you don’t stand up for what you believe in then… you believe in nothing.
But silence isn’t cowardliness.
Silence is a show of restraint.
Silence is maturity and skepticism in the face of a media storm.
Silence allows for research time.
Silence allows the time needed for more factual information to surface.
You see, silence leaves the room to listen.
You don’t understand why black people want you to say Black Lives Matter. Because… how unfair… all lives matter. But did you take a second to find out why?
You don’t understand the plight of a police officer? Because all police officers are racists, kill happy, and racially profile. Have you taken a moment to understand or follow the laws by which they operate?
The same thing goes for all of the other social issues we’re dealing with as a nation and world right now.
We literally cannot form an unbiased opinion. Our opinions are shaped by our life experiences. Our bag of biases’ make our decisions and opinions for us.
As humans we cannot understand something we have not experienced first hand. This is the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Empathy is what causes us to form strong opinions. We identify with the sentiments of someone’s cause in a way that makes us stand up and shout…. Hey you… get off my grass! We think that by standing for what we believe in we’re going to change someone’s mind about the way they should feel.
This is literally impossible. People argue their point as if someone who has experienced life in a totally different way is going to all of the sudden say… Oh you’re right… I should stop feeling this way and agree with you.
We debate and yell and scream… to no avail.
I have never once seen a FB argument change someone’s mind.
We are so jaded by our own biases’ that we feel the urge and entitlement to speak our opinions. To force our views on others.
Every so often if it’s been a particularly busy day… full of loudness, or conversation, or heavy thinking… I crave silence. I need to shut off all of the input and just sit in the silence.
I believe our nation and our world could benefit from silence.
Because when everyone is talking… no one is listening.
We need more listening.
We need to hear and understand the shouts of anger, pain, and distrust coming from the African American community… We are not being treated fairly. We are being terrorized in our own country… we afraid for our families, our husbands, our sons, our safety. We need to listen.
We need to hear and understand the cries of sorrow, disgust, and poor treatment from the LGBT community.
We need to listen and recognize the declining mental health of our nation.
WE NEED TO LISTEN!
But we don’t. We don’t listen to others because we think they should be listening to us! So instead of creating silence we’re creating a battle of words in which one side must scream louder and stronger to be heard.
We’re creating a tornado of sound… and it’s wiping out understanding, compassion, empathy, and acceptance.
Silence would literally end the storm. Silence is the pre-cursor to peace.
We don’t stay silent because we’re sure what we have to say needs to be heard, because we are right… but are you actually?
You see a while back I stopped using the word Christian as a descriptor for myself. Why? Because we have slaughtered the word Christian until it is unrecognizable. Christian equals Westboro Baptist Church. Christian equals hypocrite. Christian equals elitist. Christian equals gay bashing.
It’s not a word I want to be affiliated with. I’m not discussing my religious beliefs here… I’m discussing the title we use to classify them.
We’ve done this very thing to other classifications. Let’s see…
White= Entitled, Privileged
Atheist= Cold, Misinformed
Terrorists= Blind Followers
It doesn’t stop there. We’ve contorted the classification of people into groups and grossly misrepresented a broad range of people.
Because we listen and are influenced by the person talking the loudest. I mean aren’t those the posts that go viral? The person coming from the farthest left field? People think… wow they’re brave for saying this! But the truth is they are only contributing to the problem.
We have managed to forget that people do not belong in categories. And that everyone doesn’t fit in the category your first impression puts them in.
Is every black person a thug? No. Are there bad people in the world? Yes. Are there an equal number of white bad people? YES!
Is every Christian holding a protest sign? No. Does every church goer think God hates gays? No. Does every Christian believe being gay is a choice? No!
Is every Republican against abortion? No.
Do you see what I mean… I could go on and on.
We created a mess of noise! Yelling, shouting, screaming… just to be heard! Just to prove to someone that you have an opinion… or that you want them to change their mind.
But what if we all subscribed to the idea of a little more silence?
What is before we get our pretty panties in a twist and post some kind of rant about how it’s unfair to say that Black Live Matter more… All Lives Matter… yadda yadda… How about you use that same time sitting silently and reading about where the sentiment came from. Type it into google.
How about before posting a rant you consider what the result of your words might be?
Will this be encouraging to my friend?
Will this draw us closer together?
Will this be beneficial to the conversation?
Are my words going to better someone or something?
If not… then consider silence.
Because what my silence shows my vast range of friends is that I am a hearing person. I listen.
I love first and often. I will do what I can to understand them and their plight.
I will stand beside them in love… even if I don’t agree with them.
I will do my best to understand their woes even when I can’t empathize with them.
I will set down my bag of biases’ or better yet I will consider erasing my biases’ long enough to listen.
Because when I listen… I learn… when I learn… I can understand… and when I understand… I can become the kind of change this world needs. A silent change within our hearts.
A change in the way that we treat our neighbors.
A change in the way that we operate a traffic stop.
Or drive through a tough neighborhood.
A change in the way we accept those who are different than us.
A change in the way we view those who we disagree with.
We don’t have to scream to be heard.
We need to be silent. We need to listen. Each and every one of us needs to change.