Why Listening Matters

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”-Ephesians 4:1-3
In any healthy relationship, communication is what helps make it stronger. When couples can have a good dialogue about issues, struggles, hurts, happiness, success, etc. they seem to find a way to make it through the majority of their issues. In fact, a survey conducted by a lifestyle website YourTango.com that polled 100 mental health professionals, revealed that communication issues was the cause of 65% of divorce (http://www.yourtango.com/experts/rochelle-bilow/want-your-marriage-last?utm_source=huffingtonpost.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_article). Interestingly enough, following communication issues, was “inability to resolve conflict” with 43%.
In light of recent incidents of lives being lost which has sparked movements and police officers losing their lives because of mistrust and anger rising to the top, we need to look at the results of this relationship survey.

Somewhere down the line, perhaps from the beginning of our country or the abolition of slavery, our communication has broken down. We have lost the ability or chosen to ignore the voices of those who are on the “other side”. We have allowed for our own ideals to be more important, which in turn, has created a division of “either you’re with me or you’re against me” instead of looking at it as differing opinions that can still lead towards a cohesive relationship.
I don’t want to turn this into a race discussion, but race is playing a major role in what is occurring in our society today. 
However, we need to look at all levels of our community- from rich to poor, elderly to young, gender equality, sexual orientation,  differences in race, republicans to democrats (and other parties), and more.  The communication has to be both ways. We have to listen to all sides.
We have to understand where everyone is coming from. Our lack of communication has led to a divorce of community. We have decided to shut down and shrug our shoulders to the needs of the other person(s). Our inability to listen and have a healthy conversation has created division and separation that requires mediation.
There needs to be a healthy dialogue with leaders, community members (young and old) to discuss the rise in tension. Couples go to counseling to figure out their issues and sit to understand why they have grown so far apart. This is where our society is at.
Both parties need to put their agendas aside and listen. This relationship is not lost. There is hope. We can find balance and peace. We can make the marriage work.
The lack of communication creates conflict. Remember, according to the survey, 43% of marriages ended due to the inability to resolve conflict. Inability to resolve conflict is a direct result of not being able to communicate.
The conflict escalates. The pain goes on without remedy. People grow discontent. They feel uncared for. They lose patience. They let it build up inside and the hurt grows. Then, they explode and the other person in the relationship is wondering where it all went wrong.
No communication leads to explosive conflict, which can lead to irreparable damage.
As a society, we need to hear the hurt and pain. We need to respond to the struggle and difference. We need to listen to the needs of “the other side” and not write them off with our own feelings. We need to look beyond our biases and search for understanding.
We cannot allow ourselves to look at people with an “Us vs Them” mentality because we are in this together. This world is ours to care for and we cannot allow for it to burn due to our hate, anger, frustration, and pain to boil over all due to lack of communication.
Our future depends on our love to be stronger than our hate. As with a marriage, if we love each other enough and want to make it work, then we will do whatever it takes to bridge the gap and move forward together.
May we strive to listen to hurt and pain. May we see that we are all humans, broken and struggling. May we fight against the dividing lines and come together. May we rise together to unify, reconcile, and bring hope for the future.
Peace and blessings friends.

QUESTION: How can we be better at sitting together and listening to “the other side”?

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