Listening as an act of love, not surprisingly, is often sacrificial.
To listen to someone who opposes you, who wishes you to diminish in some way, is a kind of sacrifice. This listening, as difficult as it is however, is no less necessary if we are going to find a to live together that reflects the deepest loves of our aspirations.
We propose arguments. We offer various logics. We rant and rage. But do we listen? Do we hear that person whom we disagree with? Do we hear ourselves as we rage? And do we hear the person when they say, "I hear you, but. . ."? Do we recognize that we have been heard, and still the person before us cannot join us in that song.
How do you face that kind of heartbreak?
There is this prevailing concept of "difference" that still haunts many of us. Perhaps we don't like the feeling of loneliness that comes with discovering someone is not like us. Perhaps we are so certain of our rightness/righteousness, of our way of being in the world, that we are simply unable to hear anyone who may walk through the world differently. We do not need to go to the polarities of society to find this dynamic at work. No, we can go to our closest kin, those most like us and still stumble over the difference, finding them insurmountable.
So often I find that the discourse around difference focuses only on the furthest polarities. So, of course we cannot imagine sacrifice. There is too much ground to cover between us. There is too much at stake. We cannot imagine serving one another in equanimity; the differences are too painful, the distinctions too great. This scenario, however, is quite rare.
The truth of life is that more of us are similar than radically different.
What does it mean to listen? And might that listening cause one of us to diminish while the other increases?
What does it mean to hear in such a way that makes room for another in our world view and allowing ourselves to expand and change in the process? How might this look in our own lives?
I am not you. You are not me. We have established this time and time again.
Nevertheless, are we still willing to listen, or has that time passed? Is it too late?
Is our love to be forever unrequited?