Godwin: Listen to others as you would have them listen to you

September 19, 2013 

Godwin

— I’m a Christian, conservative and Republican, but all three families have disappointed me at times.

Too many of my Christian brothers and sisters have gotten in the habit of spewing judgment and condemnation at those with whom they disagree. There’s only one problem with this: It’s wrong. Of many Bible verses to support this point, the Greatest Commandment seems like a solid choice. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” God help the one of us who forgets that we are no better than anyone else and decides to hop on a self-righteous soapbox, condemning others as if we have standing to judge. We don’t.

As for conservatives and Republicans, vitriol aimed at the other side is both unproductive and self-defeating. Politics is not a battleground between good and evil. There is an awful lot of grey area in public policy ripe for negotiation and compromise. The same critique holds for my liberal and Democratic friends.

Unfortunately, many of us dive into the cesspool headfirst and carry the torch of division and demagoguery to Main Street. We’ve successfully created a country of warring factions, and it’s ripping America apart at the seams. When it takes foreign terrorists slaughtering thousands of our neighbors to unite us, something is horribly wrong.

Now, for my humble prescription: Listen. That’s it, listen.

I borrowed the idea from God because he’s smarter than I am. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak.”

I believe we have a moral responsibility to listen and gain an understanding of the other side’s position. You can learn more about this idea at ListenFirstProject.org.

Too often we engage in mutual-reinforcement parties with friends of like mind. We call this pervasive practice “confirmation bias,” and it is dangerous.

What if we turned off our favored news source, sat down with someone of a different perspective and listened? While we’d still hold different, even competing, views, we’d be able to move beyond slander and seek common ground, each with a newfound appreciation and respect for the other side.

Pearce Godwin

Georgetown

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