I remember my mother calling me in from play, usually to do chores. I’d ignore the first couple of calls, because they challenged my desire to live life on my terms. Then I’d give in and show up at home.
“Didn’t you hear me?" she would always ask.
I did hear her — but I wasn’t really listening to her.
I heard the noise of her call — but I didn’t want to hear the content. It would disrupt my playtime plans.
Underneath her spoken content there was even more to listen to.
I never thought to listen to her frustration at my challenge to her parenting authority, her desire to control at least one thing in a rather chaotic household, or her loneliness, because if I didn’t show up there was no one else at home.
There was so much to learn if I had really listened.
There’s a lot of “noise” in the air these days, from loud and angry voices.
Sometimes loud and angry is an appropriate response. But too many accusations and judgments and demonizing labels are being hurled across the divides of politics and culture. From the latest social media platform to the low-tech bumper sticker, we’re often passing out a piece of our mind with too much certainty and not enough civility.
The “noise” from all sides of many divisions makes real listening difficult. Real listening does best in calm and quiet — two things in short supply.