I dare you to get close enough to listen and learn

This view of Maul-Hall

A couple of days ago, taking Max out for a short afternoon walk, I grabbed these two photographs – our house, and then my parents’ next door. It’s not that I don’t already have a hundred good shots of both properties so much as the dramatic effect of a shift in perspective.

Taking the photograph from a different viewpoint.

This is essentially “verse two” of the same message I had in yesterday’s post, Now I see through a glass, darkly. Except this time the point is that seeing clearly must involve understanding not only the fact that something can be observed from many different directions (up to three hundred sixty degrees), but also anywhere from a long distance to very close at hand.

I believe it is fair to say that most of the things people express strong, pointed opinions about tend to be viewed from a safe distance.

It becomes increasingly hard to judge people, criticize, treat them dismissively, neatly summarize what is wrong with them, or trash their point of view when we take the trouble to get to know them, and to understand where they are coming from.

Listening is the most dangerous thing we can do if we want to hate or condemn.

God forbid we should sit down and share coffee, or a meal, with someone we oppose or disagree with.

Who knows what might happen if we stopped lobbing grenades from long distance (judgements, insults, half-truths, memes, slogans, barbed comments etc.) and took the time to find out who “they” actually are?

One of the best “connect” exercises I have used in small groups and retreats, is to have people pair off for ten minutes, ask each other some standard questions, and then have them introduce one another to the larger group.

I dare you to try that with someone you have judged to be wrong/bad/un-American/ignorant/etc. or worse. Invite them out for coffee; listen; get to know them; learn.


– my parents’ home and both driveways. Our house is obscured by the trees

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