I’m not sure where I read or heard this bit of wisdom but I really hope I learn to live it:
It doesn’t matter what you are saying, it only matters how the people listening hear what you are saying.
What does that mean? I’ll give my take of it in a story. I was reading ABC News yesterday and came across a story on the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign (pretty basic from my interpretation – just go to Palestine to see what’s up. But I haven’t researched it further yet). The story went on to talk about how Israeli authorities were promising to deport any foreigners who flew in this weekend with plans on going to Palestine for the campaign.
I didn’t like that part about deporting people who want to visit Palestine. As someone who is opinionated, I mentioned it to some people who were sitting near me. We got into a conversation that started with “I turn my brain off when I hear things like that.” I couldn’t believe that a well educated person whom I respect would say such a thing. And that is the first example. I heard ‘I have no opinion on occupation.’ But, as I found out later, he was really saying ‘people on both sides aren’t really talking to each other, there are no meaningful outcomes coming from dialogue, so why waste the time in talking about it?’ (although, this is me paraphrasing what I heard so I might have it wrong again).
We have to learn how to say things that will be heard in a way we want them to be heard.
We also talked about abortion. How the pro-choice people are not talking TO the pro-life people (and vis-a-versa), but rather each are talking to the ‘moveable middle’ and trying to convince those in the middle to join one side or the other. They do this instead of talking to each other, trying to convey their fears and convictions to each other in a way that the other side will HEAR in order to find common ground.
We have to learn to keep communicating in ways that will allow us to come together – especially over such important issues like abortion and apartheid.
I know this is something I have to learn to do. When I first hear someone who disagrees with me on something as important as self-rule and self-determination, I have to remember to HEAR what they are saying and to say what I want to convey in a way that they themselves will hear. And to continue a dialogue where we all hear each others concerns.