Listening Before Judging

My getting ready for 50 project involved letting my hair go grey. Tick.

And reading the bible cover to cover. Tick for the OT and the Gospels but got stuck in Romans, limped to Corinthians and am trying to get started again.

But this isn’t failure confession time. What I want to say is that, now that I’m properly on the other side of that hill, I’ve decided to, as far as middle-agedly possible, eradicate dismissiveness from my life.

When I told my 22 year old daughter that I was going to listen carefully to people rather than just assuming that I disagreed for whatever reason, she asked, “Does this include conservatives?”

Me: “Theologically or politically?”

Her: “Theologically – you never have to listen to right wing politicians.” (Nice touch,  I thought.)

Funnily, I’ve been trying to listen to the more liberal brothers and sisters out there but, having felt burned by some wacky far right theology, didn’t feel like I had to extend this listening before judging thing to my “enemies”. Yes, I do see how that bible-reading exercise might have influenced me a little more, especially seeing as I did get through the gospels.

So how’s it going?

It’s hard – first because I’m particularily gifted at judgementalism and this new way requires that I breathe (think, even) before I come to a conclusion.

Also- it’s hard because dimissive jugementalism is rampant amongst my peers. Left, right, liberal, conservative, believing, non-believing – it doesn’t matter – everyone seems so set in their middle-aged ways and not just their politics and theology, but their taste in just about everything.

It’s not that I want to like things that I find unlikeable. Not at all. But I want to be able to explain clearly why I’m bored to tears by Ricky Gervais when he airs his humourless atheism, as popular as he is, on a light entertainment programme. I want to be able to talk to an atheist about that and have them see my point of view. In other words, I don’t want to be dismissed either. (See? I didn’t miss all the Gospel wisdom.)

I especially don’t want to dismiss something because it’s new and different. I’ve never believed in the good old days. Rather, at every point in history, I’m pretty sure you could point out something cultural that’s better and something that’s worse than it was 30 years before. I don’t want to miss out on the stuff that’s better than it was when I became an adult almost that long ago.

So that’s the plan and the new spiritual work in progress.  Look for an update in about six months. It may be to say that I have no more friends. Must remember not to dismiss those who are stuck in their ways.

3 Responses to Listening Before Judging

  1. I’ve come to the unoriginal conclusion that “youth is wasted on the young”. Mostly as it applies to me. Crossing over into 50 involved a lot of “if I knew then what I know now” reflection, and the realization that I am far more interested now in listening and asking questions than in sharing my visionary monopoly on the truth with others. I still have my moments, I quoted “Invictus” the other day, but I think I’ve evolved to the point where the “Prayer of St. Francis” is closer to my personal manifesto than “Invictus”. I know I’m not getting any smarter, so I ascribe this evolution to growing older.

  2. “Shut up and listen” should be tattooed on the back of my hand. I always remember that one just a little too late.

  3. On my other hand should be tattooed, “Ask the next question.”

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