Staff Opinion: The importance of listening

By Jamison White | February 19, 2019 10:18pm

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Beacon sports reporter Jamison White shares the importance of truly listening.
by Annika Gordon / The Beacon

In today’s America, there are so many different ideals and ways of thinking that naturally people’s opinions are going to differ — from the fight for civil rights to the array of opinions on gun control.

All these different opinions mean that sometimes groups feel they must shout instead of talk to be heard. This can lead to violence like that seen in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. 

This violence is the sum of these shouting voices yelling different opinions that are much deeper than a surface feeling. This violence, however, is avoidable and unnecessary.  

Some of the best advice I have ever heard came while I was sitting in a lecture my freshman year. A political discussion broke out and some of these differing opinions were brought up. My professor then promptly showed us a TED Talk by Elizabeth Lesser I had never seen before, “take ‘the other’ to lunch.”

The meaning of this phrase is to not jump to this evil conclusion of ‘the other,’ who has a different opinion than you. The first step in solving these issues is listening. The call to action is to sit down with your “enemy” and try to understand where their way of thinking is coming from. 

If you can truly understand the standpoint of the opposing side, it’s much easier to have a conversation. A conversation will lead to not only less violence, but also potentially to a solution.

The power of feeling like you have been heard and your opinion has been at least considered is much more powerful than two sides screaming at each other. The noise of the sides shouting gets so loud, and is screamed by so many voices, that the message can very much get diluted.

Instead of leaders of each side focusing on destroying the other side, their time and energy should be spent understanding the other side. It is impossible to truly understand where someone’s ideals may be coming from without understanding the background of what forms those thoughts. 

Whether you identify as conservative or progressive, left or right, it doesn't matter unless you take the time to listen to the other. Both sides shouting will never see the progress that either side wants.

At the end of the day in this country we are all united by the label of Americans and have a responsibility to treat each other as equals. Part of this is the fact that our voices, like everyone in this country, are equal. 

We have to continue to not be so quick to action or condemnation when we don’t have all the facts or have not taken the time to listen one another. 

The feeling that you have been heard can be so powerful. When you feel you have truly been heard, you become more open to finding a solution. A force that people forget to use is the power of truly listening.

Jamison White is a sports reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at whitej20@up.edu.

Contact sports reporter Jamison White at whitej20@up.edu.
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