Ears Up and Shut Up, Please

I was going to write yesterday. I’ve found that it is already working much better today.

So instead of writing yesterday, you might ask, what did I do?

Well, my little shaved apes, I spent yesterday in the great endeavor of mankind. Oh yes, that thing that is now our most effective means of expansion and evolution further into existence. The thing that will bring us towards the future. The very thing that has brought us from the most barbaric points of our civilizations, now past. The thing that good parents do. The thing that strong and passionate lovers do. The thing that friends, that transcend time, race, age, income and any other ultimately meaningless classification that is either thrown upon us or that we choose to reinforce, do.

Wanna know what that thing is?

I thought you might. Here you go…

Conversation.

Yup! That’s right! Good ol’ face-to-face human interaction.

A novel concept, I know. But I swear to you now and until my last living breath- if there is hope for humanity (and boy, could we sure use some!) it can be found in the words drummed up by vocal cords and folds by another sack of flesh with a consciousness. No matter who it is and how you feel about them, there is no better way to reach out to another human than looking into their eyes and trading back and forth between listening and speaking.

Now I know what you’re thinking…

‘But Bruce, that guy is stupid and says stupid things and is mean and bigoted and I don’t like him so I don’t have to talk to him or respect him or anything like that.’

And to that I say… don’t be stupid. You sound stupid when you say that. What do you want to be president or something?

‘But isn’t bigotry dumb?’

Well sure, yeah, it operates on a baser level of our minds and is almost always reinforced by a lack of education, but riddle me this, if you be so smart, how do you beat something like that?

Do you refuse it? Do you say ‘no, this is not mine and I won’t accept it?’

Do you actively fight it? Do you try and tear it down? Remove its power? Eradicate it?

Do you ignore it? Let it pass from your mind? Forget it ever even existed?

The answer.

Yes. To all the above.

And also…… no…. to all of them as well.

So, in between, I suppose. But let me elaborate before you accuse me of inaccuracy and/or hyperbole.

To make it as simple as I am capable of, I say this. If you do not understand where the bigot comes from, why they believe what they believe- you can never overcome them. If you do not have any concept or make any attempt to understand their hate, their rage, even their possibly horrible actions- you will never overcome it. Even monsters have their reasons.

And that does not mean I suggest that you can make a monster into a Muppet. You can’t. The likelihood might be so low that the energy invested may very well be a waste. But if you fail to see what causes hate in the past, you will have no idea as to how you can change it in the future. And besides, there aren’t as many monsters in this world as you might think. Its more that we’re all just afraid of everyone else being a monster. Ipso facto, we never rule out that someone we don’t know, or better yet, don’t understand, is likely to be so monstrous.

But how does conversation solve this? And isn’t it our overload of communication that could arguably be the source of our current conversational strife?

Well, there certainly is an overload of something, but it is not conversation. You could blame technology, but you’d be wrong. It a human problem. Every aspect of life being digitized wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t still analog creatures. Might seem contradictory for me to type all this up and for you to read it on a screen, but dig it for a second.

As I started, I shall say again, I wrote this today because I was busy conversing yesterday. All day. With a wide variety of topics. I spoke with a fellow from black America and a military veteran of Central American heritage, regarding peace policies of empires (one in particular) both domestic and abroad. I’m a Caucasian fellow, by the way.

Then another coworker of mine began discussing food and diet, and so the conversation shifted. Yet we each gave turns to speak. We all listened, which is different than waiting for our own turn. No one yelled, though a few of us can get quite animated whilst speaking. But each of us learned something from or about one another.

Now that may be easy, as we were all friends and have similar ideas, when spoken about vaguely enough. So, I’ll give you another example. Another day, at work, another colleague of mine was seemingly cheering at a recent executive proposal to eliminate the large amount of voter fraud that had evidently done him so wrong. The claim was between three and five million illegal votes.

Now, before you shut down because of your opinion already in place, let me continue.

I simply asked him, if he could, to prove it. I asked him, if he thought that was such a serious matter and a legitimate claim to the numbers, then I would like to see the proof, as I have not seen it yet.

*Disclaimer* Facebook posts from your uncle are not news. Unless it is verified by a respectable print journalist, it cannot be legitimately claimed as proper news. Facts are facts. Numbers are exact and unrelenting. Though the dialogue around them can very easily be skewed.

So, he searched and searched on his telephone. Ultimately, he came up with one article which would pass as sufficient. I won’t tell you what it was or if it supported the claims of the executive. You can look that up yourself. Just make sure your source is valid. Associated Press is a good example.

But what we spoke about is not as important as how we spoke about it. He made a claim, I internally considered its ignorance and outwardly inquired to the validity. Now we both know more, regarding both the situation and ourselves.

Everyone has their reasons. Good, bad or just down right stupid, no one wants to relent the position that they’ve set themselves on. The key, is to express and understand that being wrong doesn’t make you an evil person, unless you are unable to change errors and learn. And being right is not authorization to be a pompous douche-nozzle. Some people are difficult to talk to. Difficult to understand. Seemingly impossible. Don’t hate them. Don’t ignore them. Don’t berate them. Most likely, they hurt more than you realize. And maybe, just maybe, a good conversation might not be enough to allow empathy. But it is almost always enough to get a little sympathy into the mix.

But yesterday, a whole day away, was filled mostly with a good bit of music making, which is another extraordinary way to converse, and a chance to sit down with a near, and very dear friend. This gentleman is the sort, for me, whom I immediately connected. Very cosmic type shit. One conversation turned into a lifelong friendship. And the conversation continues. Most things are not that easy. Most things are hard, and getting harder. But remember, doing nothing will not make anything easier. And frankly, with where our civilization stands now- doing nothing will surely doom us all and our children. And our children’s children, if they even get the chance to exist in the first place.

So, to put it into a thesis: Don’t yell when you can listen first. Don’t stay a silent witness to ignorance, but don’t respond with ignorance of your own. And hate always has, and always will, make more hate. But the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference, which is far more toxic, and currently, much more widespread.

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