*What I Learned From Listening To The Live Streaming
Of The Oregon Standoff* ...
Firstly, why did I listen? Simply put, I listened because I would learn nothing if I didn't.
Flat out, I would stay ignorant of the situation, and the motives, if I didn't listen. I would read or hear snippets processed through someone else's filtering system, and altered by their choice of words. And, as a result of that filtering and choosing, I would need to take those comments or observations with a grain of salt. I might gravitate towards comments or observations that confirmed my own beliefs, and ignore those that challenged my beliefs in some way.
By directly listening, I could hear for myself what was said, and I could look for the seeds of compassion.
I listened because compassion starts somewhere, and the most obvious place is by listening. That the word 'compassion' originates with the Latin 'compati': 'to suffer with'. And 'passion' arises from 'pati': 'to suffer'. The occupiers of the Oregon refuge were there because they felt passionate about something. If I'm a compassionate person it behooves me to at the very least listen, and unfiltered listening is best.
Just a point of clarity: Listening does not, in any way, imply agreeing with. Listening is about hearing what someone has to say. Good listening is about hearing what is being said without forming opinions about what is being said. It's truly a lost art, I know, but one I challenge myself to practice often. Daily, even.
Discourse only begins with respect, and respect begins with listening. Listening first. Thinking second. Responding or refuting third. Not listening to refute. Listening to understand. Not to agree: to understand.
Not listening to merely find fodder for ridiculing, or to find ammunition for bombastic name calling. Listening to find the things to think about. To discover the passion, the reasoning. Listening looking for insight.
Insight into someone else's held beliefs, because therein will I find the means to understand my own.
Listening with compassion, to find compassion.
Because somewhere in me is the seed of compassion, for any living being. Not just for people I like, or people I agree with, or people that don't rock the boat.
My personal challenge is to find that compassion for people who challenge me. To take the learning that is offered through that interaction, and to be grateful for the lesson.
Truly my greatest spiritual teachers are not teachers because they have a faith they follow. My greatest spiritual teachers are ones who challenge me to get in touch with my compassion: that challenge my default thinking. The ones who teach me about myself, and who allow me to practice accepting those lessons with grace.
You know, 'grace'... which comes from the Latin 'gratus': 'Pleasing, thankful, gratitude',
Which is why I listened.