The chaos in our country is a failure to communicate. Problems become politics when there is power to gain. The pandemic is exposing the hearts and minds of the people around us, their thoughts, motives, and beliefs are on full display with technology amplified transparency. We are losing the art of listening, and it is painting an ugly picture of our future together.
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.Proverbs 18:13
The deafening noise of division
The divisiveness in our country is born of greed and a struggle for power. It is by design. We naturally gravitate to the people with easy answers that provide us an enemy to blame and provide excuses for our behavior. This playbook of divisiveness is not new. The most tragic events throughout history begin this way. The crusades, the holocaust, civil wars, and economic collapses, all begin with a failure to connect and collaborate for the common good. The politics of fear magnify our compulsion to align our identities to an ideological message, marketed by those in search of power and funded by those who profit the most. The differentiation of sides is no longer about solving a problem, it is now simply a function of who we listen to. We are bombarded with crafted divisive narrative of chosen sides who believe there is ground to gain and an enemy to blame. The division is broadcasted daily and then carried forward by us like a virus touching every aspect of our lives. We have few leaders willing to be authentic and inspire us to look inward for the hard answers that would truly make a difference in the world. We are like sheep, aimlessly flocking to a shepherd that is leading us to slaughter. We gladly give up our power of independent thought, narrow our sense of community, and compromise our values, to the loudest voice with the deepest pockets. Our sense of connection and collaboration on common ground is lost, as we blindly seek to engage and destroy a manufactured enemy, often to our own demise.
We have lost the logic that there are no certainties and no clearly defined lines in life, there is only the opportunity to negotiate an improved future. The fact is that there is plenty of moral ammo to be shot from either side of the political aisle, the system itself is broken, sold to the highest bidder. The only options left are to either let the current divisiveness run its course of destruction , or to reset and replace all involved before we suffer the consequences. Maybe, we ourselves are the enemy, by not holding our leaders to higher standards than the rules of the playground, regardless of the political affiliation of the bully du jour. Maybe, we should look inward and gain the courage to stop the divisiveness and not promulgate it. Maybe, we lead by example and have a collaborative respectful conversation within our own circles of influence. Maybe, we expand our circles and include those with differences. Maybe we ignore the criticisms from those who fail to provide meaningful contributions and collaboration.
The deafening noise of division is preventing us from hearing the hurt. It is forcing us to choose between conforming or confronting, leaving out the option of effectively communicating with one another to find common ground from which we can solve the problems faced.
We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”– Epictetus
Our country’s communication failure
Communication is a simple two way process, someone speaks and the other listens, and our brains translate the meaning. Yet, so many problems and issues we encounter on a daily basis are rooted in miscommunication. We have no control over what people say, or the message they send, we can only control our processing of the meaning of the message received.
Our brains have an immense power to generate predictions even with incomplete data, or partial messages received. We fill in the blank spaces of incomplete messages, scrolling through prior knowledge to make inferences until our brain lands on a piece of data to insert that will complete the message and enables us to derive its meaning. The beauty in this process is the speed in which it occurs, but the ugly is we aren’t listening.
We have lost the art to listen to one another. The picture we paint in our minds has become a color by number template negatively influenced by our general lack of trust and past bad behaviors. Instead of starting with a blank canvas of generous assumptions, the picture is preformed with the rigid boundaries and dictated color palettes of politics. The breakdown in communication is we have determined the meaning before we ever receive the message.
When we listen we learn, but it is our ego choosing to speak instead. When we open our minds and close our mouths it is amazing how much common ground we will discover.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to angerJames 1:19