If we learned to listen maybe we wouldn’t judge so quickly….

 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

James 1:19-20
– North Carolina writer Derek Maul

This morning’s post could easily be a book. So, instead, I’m going to keep it short. I probably shouldn’t even try to open this subject because it is so huge, but a few thoughts have been buzzing around in my head and I need at least to jot down a few notes.

I have talked about language before, especially the stunning fact that while there are more than 400,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary the average person utilizes closer to ten thousand, maybe twenty-five for those with a more expansive education.

I trace the connections between our inner life and thought and speech and character and action. My point has always been that, with so many unused words to spare, how about enriching our vocabulary of grace; and – consequently – the way we interface with the world.

I was listening to a Hidden Brain podcast featuring the work of psychologist Batja Mesquita, who studies emotions and culture and language. Apparently, in comparing some of the core words used to describe emotion across multiple languages, there are very few direct corollaries.

Ideas such as anger, peace, satisfaction, joy, frustration, contentment, love, uneasiness etc. etc. etc. lose shades of meaning and are not directly translatable.

People can become fluent in a second language, but emotionally confused because the words that describe how we feel are tied to culture, and experience, and associations rooted in so much more than the spelling and the pronunciation.

So there I was, walking the dog and listening to this fascinating study, and I realized that rather than 400,000 words there are literally millions of possibilities when it comes to accurate and satisfactory communication.

All the more reason to become expert in “active listening” and to look at the cultural milieu and most especially to realize that we are not inside someone else’s head, and that communication is all about relationship and clarification and mutual respect and wanting to understand.

And of course so much more.

So listen.

So care.

So suspend our tendency to practice default judgment and easy dismissal, and at least try to understand – DEREK

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