Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Sit and Listen

In confusing, overwhelming times, a need arises to speak. Talk it out, chew on it until it is regurgitated as something that finally makes more sense. I feel this compulsion, too. To share, to dialogue, to think on the outside of my mind. I have fostered a growing suspicion that I could benefit more from sitting and listening. It is, after all, hard to learn something when I am busy teaching people what I think by talking at them/to them/with them.


This week, a lot of issues and thoughts, words and arguments are swirling about in the air. It is busy, in the air. Too busy. Overwhelming. Against all compulsions and my initial reactions, I think it is best to sit and listen. Take it in. Learn.

The week is chugging on, each day giving us a new concept to taste, digest and expel in one form or another. At the end of this week comes Remembrance Day, a moment of national silence. Quiet. To reflect and remember, honour and mourn. We consider our freedom, and the costs. We thank our veterans and active duty military for their service. We are humbled, quiet, in their presence and memory.

I can remember November 11th as far back as my school-age memory serves. Each year, I remember standing in a gymnasium or bundled up at an outdoor ceremony. The bugle plays. There is silence, and I unfold the Kleenex from my pocket to dry my cheeks. I will do the same this week. I will think about the sacrifices. I am grown, now, and in sitting and listening I have learned of soldiers my own age who suffered. Who suffer. I have known men who grew old and continue to suffer. They came home when others did not.

Perspective.

This week is tumultuous. It is confusing. This week our place in the world feels magnified, as the big picture comes together and we wonder how the story will play out. Instead of talking, being armchair pundits, growing angry, growing spiteful, let's sit quietly. Let's listen. Let's learn together. Let's remember the names and faces we know. The stories we have sit and heard. I will think of the military members I know who have missed their families, their spouses and children, to serve and fight and work towards peace. Many come home not at peace, and the suffering continues. They need us to sit and listen.


Then, when it is time to speak, let your words pass through these three gates, as Sufi poet Rumi advised, and first ask yourself: "Is it  true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?"

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