Sunday, February 7, 2010

Listen and Learn

Life is rarely black or white. It is usually various gradations of grey. Any problem, decision, action, or belief can almost always be perceived from a multitude of perspectives with many possible, logical, or even "right" choices or outcomes. Yes, there are some situations that have a best or more believable result, but even then, there is always another side to the story that may have some merit.

We often take a stand about something. We thrust a stake in the ground and proclaim the rightness of our belief or choice. We know best because we have gathered the data, mastered the debate, and slathered ourselves in the self assurance that our "knowingness" about the situation should be enough to convince those other morons that we are right.

But then something or someone comes along and fuzzies up our "knowingness". They present a real alternative, another way of thinking. If they aren't screaming their opinion or bloviating with self-righteousness, it's hard for rationale people to completely ignore them. Whether it's politics, religion, the weather forecast, or the best driving route, if a viable, reasonable alternative is in our faces, shouldn't we close our mouths and listen for minute?

I've seen liberals and conservatives debate about how to serve our country while screaming red-faced into the television camera. I have known atheists who have demonstrated profound acts of kindness while religious fanatics bomb buildings and kill in the name of the Creator. I've known good people to make bad decisions, and difficult, troubled people to surprise me with goodness.

We need to humble ourselves. We need to become listeners and learners. If we accept that very rarely there is one "right" choice, belief, or decision and stay open to all possibilities, we expand our world and find new ways of connection. Become a truth ferret. Assume that your way is not the only way. Hear and acknowledge other people and their ideas and beliefs. Embrace differences as opportunities for enlightenment. Learning and growing is a life-long endeavor and the world around you is your master teacher. Be curious and grateful for your daily lessons.

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