Photo by Katie Chase

A quick societal review tells us that there is quite a lot of anger around in the world right now. There are rifts of conflicting opposites, each side of which mounts up on a parapet, face-to-face, shouting as loudly as possible.

About as fruitful as shouting in the wind.

Neither opposite is listening but if you stop for a moment there is within it all an infantile yearning; a cry to be heard.

Without being heard yet receiving patronising placation, the anger stews, directed towards some thing or some one, arising fear.

Fear of other.
Fear of unknown.
Fear of different.
Fear of new.
Fear of too big and too complex.
Fear of out of control.
And where has my personal agency gone?

The fear pulls us inward. We contract. To close our eyes. To close our ears, and to close our mouths to dialogue. We retract into a world of what we think we know and what we think we believe, storm shutters down, braced for a bitter winter of discontent, hibernating within what we think are our safe, confined chambers of echoes.

Our thoughts and actions, our position, fully justified.

And therein we remain. Nobody listening, not even those who really ought to know better.....or maybe we just thought that they might.

Is this an accurate sense of what is going on right now? Maybe. It's a sense I'm getting about the world, but just one world.

There is another, which is much more curious and harder to do.

It's the one where we listen. Just listen. Not to respond. Not to debate. Not to retaliate. Not in your own interests. But to just listen. And to listen with heart.

It is only by listening that we can connect with others as the humans we are, developing the relationships we need in our world. And it's relationships that matter in all of our life.

Listening is the only way we can be fully in touch with our world, which is its power. The challenge is that it demands strength and vulnerability. A good sense of self. Yet a setting aside of self to listen to the other. This is found not through tools or technique but through the concerted development of self, a journey of significant proportion which can take some courage.

Katie Chase

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