Opinion: Don’t talk, just listen

We undoubtedly live in a time of extremes. And we’re constantly being reminded of this (see: Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, reactions to the legality of same-sex marriage, the notion that rap music is the cause of all evil, the notion that rap music is harmless, the silence regarding the seven Black churches being burned over the course of 2 weeks). I’m not sure how we got here, but I am sure that it’s extremely problematic.

Before I go any further, let me first offer this disclaimer: I am far from a theological scholar and even farther from having any real meaningful understanding of public policy and politics. But I am a thinker. I am a fan of logic. And compassion. And I believe that there is power when those two things (logic and compassion) collide or coexist. When you can use those as the filters through which you view the world, the picture is a bit different.

Ok, so how did we get here? Great question. Thanks for asking.

In my opinion, we arrived in this murky land of extremes because more people started talking and even more people stopped listening. Social media, in all of its gloriousness, provided platforms for people to share and then overshare. Great thinkers and writers had to share space and bandwidth with people who just like to hear themselves talk (or type). People who had earned and were given titles like “thought leader” and “subject matter expert” and the like had to now compete with self-proclaimed and self-crowned experts. And those lines are sometimes extremely blurry to the casual reader. Even folks with already-established traditional platforms took to social media to take certain liberties that they couldn’t exercise while on the clock.

What does that mean though? It means that thoughts and opinions and information that was shared before, was created and shared in a way that was more thoughtful and thought-out and calculated and it was supported (for the most part) by research and superscripts and footnotes and such. And now everybody is racing to be the first person with an opinion. Everyone is racing to collect Likes and Retweets and Shares and ad dollars. Everyone is in a rush to be heard. The result is a cacophony of voices clashing and clanging against the wall. All of these voices (good, bad, and evil) are vying for our attention and approval. But who is really listening? We can all hear them, but how many of us are listening? There is too much clutter and not enough clarity.

Women tell men that cat-calling is annoying and offensive. Guys tell women they’re being too sensitive and they should take it as a compliment. Man tells woman to have a great day. Woman tells man to stop harassing her. Schools get shot up, illegal guns flood the street, citizens rally for better gun control. Gun enthusiast buy more guns and lament over the notion that the government is a background check away from literally coming to take their guns. Citizens of South Carolina (both Black and White) demand that the confederate flag be removed from the capital building. Proud Southerners are appalled that people would assume the flag had anything to do with racism and swear that it’s strictly a celebration of their Southern heritage and history. You know, the heritage and history that included (or includes) slavery, oppression, and hatred. People of the same sex are granted the legal right to be married and enjoy the same privileges as “traditional” married people. That’s somehow translated as a complete redefinition of marriage and an attack on Christianity, as if the law and religion were the same thing.

So many ┬ávoices. Extreme Liberal voices. Extreme Conservative voices. Extreme activism. Extreme revolutionaries. All extreme everything. But where’s the logic? Where’s the compassion? The compromise? The empathy? All of those things are lost in the muck. They’re buried deep down under the pile of voices and opinions and chatter. Screaming to be set free. And nobody is listening.