Hi. Do you have a minute? That question seems like such an innocent phrase, don’t you think? I was asked that very thing this week. Sometimes in my mind the snark starts spewing out faster than I can put a lid on it. Do I have a minute? Are you kidding me? I’ve got all eight of my octo-arms going full throttle in my classroom, I’ve got dinner to figure out before I walk through the door this evening, and I can’t seem to cram in the time to get on the treadmill long enough to torture myself so that this extra layer of love will disappear. NO! I don’t have a minute!
“Sure,” I say. “Yeah, of course. What’s up?”
And then a conversation ensues. This woman, old enough to be my grandmother, proceeds to let out all of her worries and apologies for not seeming herself. Her family had received devastating news this week and she needed someone to listen to her. Cue the ‘I am the hugest jerk’ feelings for initially feeling snarky. This was someone in need of an ear. Even though I sat down to be that for her, my reluctance from the get-go makes me feel awful. How many times do we willingly sit down to listen to someone else for the sake of listening? It’s a lost art, really. We are a society so caught up in ourselves that the act of listening to understand someone is dying.
Truth be told, I got something out of that conversation myself. It was like a divine reminder that I’ve been waaayyyy too caught up in sweating the small stuff. There were much worse things than my stress at work that day or not getting enough sleep the night before.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week about all of the events playing out on the evening news. The talking heads on the big networks are getting angrier and the crowds of people protesting are getting louder. Amidst all the chaos I think there is an ironic beauty. Stay with me here. American patriotism is coming to fruition for all political affiliations. There is passion in the voices of the masses. The negativity is overwhelming right now. But for me, I see at very least, these passions are a small piece of common ground. And we have to start somewhere. Agree?
Of course, this is also a huge part of our current predicament. We all feel that passion based on our own personalized experiences. We are making judgment calls based on the way the cookie has crumbled in our own hands. Perspective! It’s everything! Sometimes I think that when all the things in the world don’t make any sense at all, that’s actually when they make perfect sense. Because reality to you is your personalized version of what is unfolding. Are you with me? That’s why so many liberals and conservatives vehemently believe that what they stand for is RIGHT! Can you blame any of them? Would you discredit any man for standing up for what he believes?? Where things get nasty and skewed is when we try to take our own perspectives and shove them down another person’s throat. Suddenly, boom, you’re looking at what you believe is a horrible person. How dare he or she believe in the things they do!! Am I right?
People get angry and fearful when they can’t see what happens next. And personally, as much as I love social media, I don’t think American constituents need to hear anything from our POTUS via Twitter first. 140 characters are not enough to thoroughly explain oneself in regards to drastic policy changes, but they are just enough to get the crowds riled up and angry. Keep the people informed, Mr. President. But please do so with a little more regard to our value of critical information. And also, a little more grace. Just a suggestion.
I don’t think a revolution is the answer – but, a conversation IS. A real one. Neither Marshall Law nor coup d’etat fix any of this either. We’re walking a tightrope without a safety net – and gravity is about to own all of our *sses if we don’t start paying attention. This country was built by the hands of immigrants who sought liberty from religious persecution. And yet, somehow… here we are. Turn on the television right now. I guarantee you’ll find someone needing to be heard. The liberals, the conservatives, the Syrian families seeking asylum. We all very seriously need someone to listen. Do you have a minute?