Sunday, March 5, 2017

Being Still and Listening

When I first used the internet it was the early nineties and I used a modem that took the length of the desk and pinged loudly as I dialed the number of a University in Iceland. I can't remember how we came to contact Iceland in particular, but I do remember that it was an exciting time. The computer screen was a green mono which pumped out asci text in a granulated form. Not long after that WYSIWIG began to impose itself through the first internet browser Mosaic. I am not attempting to give you a history lesson in the internet and its evolution but when I look at where it is twenty five years later I am amazed. Back then we could never have imagined that I would be able to sit here and type into a program which could easily be read by anyone who had a computer or even more amazing, a phone.

With the technology and all that it offers there is one further observation I would like to make. Everyone now has a voice. It use to be that those who shouted the loudest would be the only one's heard. To some extent that is still true but those who are a little shy and don't feel confident shouting are now able to express themselves and have the world take notice. All of these people have something to say. They can, not only be heard, but they can influence what other people may think, or they can create a discussion which includes thousands of people who wouldn't ever have participated in the past.

As these plethora of ideas manifest themselves throughout cyber-space we are faced with the negative impact of ideas which foster a particular volume of hate and fear. I support notions of free speech but when that freedom is used to denigrate another person en masse I must object. With this new found freedom we have not learnt to treat each other with respect. The horror which is bred through "freedom if thought" has morphed into a cacophony of hate and fear which spreads like a virus.

The challenge now is to build a wall of resistance to all that confronts us which denigrates and humiliates others. We have all sat back and watched the tidal wave of opinion cascade upon us. The time has come to monitor the impact on our communities to dispel the hatred and fear and present a voice which looks for positive change and celebrates the bravery which is integral to the human soul.

When I slide though my Facebook pages I notice the resentment and the negativeness which governs the embedded thinking of those who feed my page with prejudice and ignorance. I often object so strongly to some of the posts that I unfriend those people immediately. However, I also understand that benefit of maintaining some of those connections because they inform me about the community with whom I wish to communicate.

Recently I read a report that stated that the best way to confront bigoted thinking is to have the protagonist spend ten minutes with the person they are denigrating. Conversely it is also true that if we want to understand the negativity which exudes from some of these people we need to listen to what they have to say. It is through the context of people's lives that we will better understand them. The challenge then is to engage with people no matter how much we may disagree with their point of view.

It is important these days to wonder about what informs thinking and what facts support what is being offered.

Yes, we are being bombarded with opinions and ideas from those who were once voiceless. The wall of resistance is not about pushing back, it is something completely different.

We need to be still and LISTEN.

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