Turn off the TV and listen to The Other

July 31, 2013

Yes, listen. Oh, and to each other, not the TV or other mainstream news media outlets.  In the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, all you need do is look at the debate panels on TV, and read the vitriolic opinion comments people write in response to sensational news articles, to see that we are not listening to one another.


Let’s not get pulled into the media hype that is driven by ratings, not by the need to create a better community. We know there is no magic bullet (sorry for insensitive metaphor) to stop the horror and pain we perpetrate on one another.  However, listening, especially to those we consider The Other (different views, race, class, sexual orientation, etc.), is something we all can start doing right now with one another - if we take the chance.


Trayvon Martin’s unnecessary death, along with the unnecessary death and violence of so many others we don’t hear about, begs us to do something different. Can we consider creating a conversation that does not require us to talk at, yell at, and accuse each other?   Talking at versus talking with does not allow for listening, and therefore offers little possibility for creating new solutions together.


The debates about who is right and who is wrong that we see offered as ‘examples’ of conversation feed the very culture that allows for senseless killings and laws like Stand Your Ground to exist in the first place. We are not open to different opinions and views as we see fellow humans who are different as Other.  This creates a culture of fear, misunderstanding, and unfortunately, violence.


We can - and need - to do better.


I am thinking of an inspiring program in NYC called Cops and Kids lead by long time community justice leader Dr. Lenora Fulani.  Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids is a program designed to foster positive interactions between the police and inner-city youth. 


I am thinking of this fascinating community photo art project by the  artist Richard Renaldi where strangers are asked to pose for pictures as if they are not strangers – challenging the ways we separate ourselves from one another.


I am thinking of a workshop this August 4th in NYC being lead by mentors of mine to entitled The Art of (Revolutionary) Conversation  where we will be creatively working on our capacity to conduct conversations that are more gratifying, powerful and transformative. 


I wish these programs were on CNN. Peace and development to all.

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