You can’t tell people things they don’t want to hear. They will see your mouth moving but will hear only the words that confirm their version of events, their version of the world. These are the kind of people who never ask questions for understanding, but rather for confirmation. Why understand something that will disrupt your understanding of everything else? It is better to just keep hearing your own ideas validated for you. Don’t ask a person why they did a thing. Simply ask them if they did a thing. And when they say yes or no, then you can tell them that of course their answer would be yes or no, because that is the kind of person they are, the kind of person they were raised to be, and of course it all makes sense, because their parents are like that too, so why would they be any other way….. Yes, you will tell them, Yes, you knew all along what kind of person they were and the fact that they did a thing or didn’t do a thing confirms everything you always knew about them.
But if you ask them why they did or did not do a thing, you might learn something you did not know before you asked them. You might learn that everything you thought you knew, you really didn’t know at all. Imagine, that all your assumptions were just that, assumptions. Imagine, that all your arguments were based upon your opinions not only about why the person is the way they are, but why the entire world is the way it is.
So if you can’t tell people things they don’t want to hear, then why do we still try? Are we all determined to drive ourselves crazy trying to get people to listen to words you have probably said to them a million times before, without them ever once hearing what you actually said? What is it Einstein says again? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If this is the case, then I must be as insane as they come, because God knows I have tried to get more than my fair share of people to listen to what they don’t want to hear.
When I was a kid in elementary school, who still had a singing-voice worth listening to, a pre-puberty voice, my choir director accused me of doing something I didn’t do while we were rehearsing. I don’t even remember what I was accused of, but I remember that I didn’t do it and I remember trying to tell him I didn’t do it. I also remember feeling like the only thing that mattered to me at the time was convincing him that I was innocent. But he didn’t hear me, no matter how much sense I was making, he just would not allow my words to change what he felt he knew as a fact. Since that incident, I have been in many other spaces where people act like they want to know something, but when you tell them a something different from what they believe, then it is as if you never spoke.
What I have come to learn is that they, the Non-Listening-People-Of-The-World, don’t have a problem with how they are as much as I do. They are pretty content believing what they want to believe and seeing the world the way they want to see it. I am the one who is going nuts trying to be heard in spaces where my voice is not valued. So if this is the case, then the problem is more with me than with them. And since the problem is mine, I must be the one to change. I must be the one to value my voice in all spaces, and if I do this, then I must be the one to know who is worthy of hearing my voice in any space. The same rule should apply to us all. Who is worthy of hearing your voice? Who is worthy of your opinions? Who is worthy of your thoughts? Who is worthy of your spirit? Once you have these answers, then you will always be around people willing to listen, and especially willing to listen to you.
But if all this is true, then does this mean we must never speak to people who don’t listen? Of course not, we must never allow ignorance to silence our voices. But to speak to ignorance, we must first demand the respect required to make men listen in a way where they truly hear what we are saying and not just want they want to hear. As to how to do this, I am not quite sure. But I am sure it has to be done. Because the one thing I know is that I will never waste my voice on people who don’t respect it enough to listen. And until they are ready to listen, then they can believe whatever the hell they want to believe, think whatever the hell they want to think, just so long as what they believe and think doesn’t impact my life. Ahhh, but once it does, then it is time to talk, to talk in a way where even the dullest of the dull will have no choice but to understand.
Did you hear me? Are you listening?
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