Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Challenging myself to listen

I had the great joy of watching two of my grandsons last week while their mommy and daddy were having baby brother. Not only was a good time had by all, but grandma and grandpa were exhausted by the end of the two days. A three year old and fifteen month old certainly have an amazing amount of energy and they need a great deal of care.

The weather was lovely and my three year old carrot top grandson was tossing a small football around. The kind of small football that are given out at Friday night high school football games. He said, "Grandma, let's play FOOTBALL." So we tossed the little football back and forth a few times and he looked at me and said, "Grandma, we have to crash."

That had me curious. "Crash?" I asked. "Yes," he said, " you put your helmet on" (and he proceeded to put on a pretend helmet, "and pull it down", then he pulled on the imaginary face guard, and then you CRASHHHHHHH! At this point he can running toward me as fast as his little three year old legs would carry him and pushed me until I went down to the ground.

Crashing was his way to talking about tackling. So, for the next hour, either he or I would toss the football to the other one, and we would race toward each other and "crash" until we were down on the ground. I am not sure what a real football player feels like after a game, but this grandma is still sore. from getting up and down from the ground.

Fast forward to last night. I watched a little Monday night football with my husband. I don't often watch football, but it was nice to have some time with him. As I watched the game I kept thinking about how my grandson and I played on Friday. We tossed the ball, but we didn't "move it down the field." We played catch and then "crashed". We weren't trying to win or play as a team, we were just having a wonderful time.

At one point it occurred to me that a great deal of what I observe in terms of politics, church and even relationships these days is more about "crashing" than actually working together to accomplish something or work toward a common goal or for the common good. Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, young and old, you name what ever group come running toward each other and push and push until they fall down to the ground. It's "our way or the highway" using that old saying. Somehow we will bulldoze our way through or knock down our opponent, our enemy or those who are different from us.

I wouldn't take a moment away from playing with my grandson, but that game is no way to live life. Human beings disagree, we have deeply held beliefs that others may not share. The problem always arises when we are unwilling or unable to listen to the other side even if we won't ever agree with it. The worst part is that we demonize and dehumanize the "other" so that we do not have to even see them as human, let alone, like "us".

I am utterly convinced that we must find a way to communicate with those who are not "like" us. We have to find a way to hear and listen to the other side. We need to quit using terms like "take back our...whatever", we "will crush you", we are "watching" and labeling people who disagree with us as "traitors" or "idiots" or any other words that hurt.

I know, that for myself, it is easy sometimes to dismiss anyone who doesn't think like me or believe like me or just trust that "I know best." I am sure it is easy for others to dismiss me as well. I intend to try and listen a little more, find a way to question or to disagree in ways that are less insulting and more affirming. If I can accomplish that even once in a while, then I will truly be

Graced to Serve.

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts and a great illustration. Grandsons (and daughters) do have lots of energy!