Stories no one believes...

8:20 PM

This week, my country elected Donald Trump to our most powerful and respected office.

Many of us have been watching to see what the fallout will be, searching news networks, scanning Facebook, and reflecting with friends and family if we feel we can be honest about where we stand. Personally, I haven’t even wanted to talk politics with all of my people; my friend says it's wise to avoid  issues  that will most likely end in a food fight. Mostly, I seem to find myself oscillating between being irrationally frightened or just plain argumentative.

Now, I’m just shocked. Stunned. Truthfully, I didn’t believe this was possible, that the baseball-cap-wearing Trump supporters would throw caution to the wind, handing the car keys over to a man who barely has a permit to not just for change but for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. How did this seem like the better option? What were these voters thinking?

More to the point, why is this the first time I am authentically asking this question?

We may be inclined to talk all day long about Trump’s indecent nature, his abusive issues toward women and his blatant self-interests. Or, we may prefer a discussion about how the Washington elite and the evil biased media are in cahoots with Hillary. We might even choose to dig a bit deeper, and talk about the state of the nation’s economics, global relations, the forgotten men and women who can’t get a break, or the ethics of immigration policy and human rights.

Clearly, there’s a lot to talk about.

These days, we text more than we talk on the phone, more than we write letters. It’s easy; we say what we need to say, and peace out. We text our neighbors instead of knocking on their door...saving time, I suppose.

And then there’s Facebook. We shove our emotional messaging into someone else’s feed, and logout. No discussion necessary, unless we feel like rolling up our sleeves and wading through the murky assumptive swamp of inflexible opinion slinging.

Well, we’re talking now. Yelling, weeping, gloating, raging, rallying, protesting and praying.

I, for one, haven’t been listening much. I have been too occupied with making an argument.

I’m listening now.

In Mark Nepo’s book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, he writes about the sacred practice of deep listening as “the doorway to everything that matters.”

In one inspired passage, Nepo looks at the words for listening in a variety of languages, sharing literal translations to look more deeply at the concept as it is interpreted by other cultures.

“In Afrikaans, luister. How long does it take to listen when pain is all around us?

In Albanian, degjoj. How do we listen to what lives below whatever name we give it?”

And my personal favorite:

“In Bosnian, slusati, How do we hear what waits in the stories no one believes?”

I didn’t believe this moment could be woven into our country’s story. I haven’t been listening deeply enough to the voices of people who shout that they’re fed up with the status quo. I never took the time to consider (although I have witnessed this firsthand) that when a person isn’t heard, he or she might break something just to get your attention.

Unfortunately, I have limits. I don’t listen well when someone is screaming at me, and I can’t change the tone of the voices shooting accusations at each other over the internet.

Here’s what I can do. I can step in when I see someone being disrespected or ignored.

I can listen to the voices of my friends who I have tuned out because I didn’t want to listen to them.

I can continue to actively love those I loved before Trump arrived at the White House even though I don’t yet understand all of their choices.

What’s waiting for us, for me, right here and now in the story of this election? I’m just going to need to take a minute to be still and listen.

Nepo, Mark. Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2012

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