An email that was forwarded to me recently:
HERE IS WHAT I WANT IN 2012
Congress: Obey its own laws!
Language: English only!
Culture: Constitution, and the Bill of Rights!
Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare!
NO freebies to: Non-Citizens!
We the people are coming!
I believe that listening is about as constructive as talking. In the process we formulate and edit ideas, interact with our surroundings, charge our brains. Listening is seen by most people as passive, but I see it as twice as active. While talking, I’m generally focused on broadcasting myself, perhaps occasionally checking the body cues from listeners. When listening, I’m taking in the other person and formulating my own thoughts at the same time. Listening is not only active, it’s self-engaging.
Growing up, I listened to a lot of people. Every day in the summer, I listened to my mother talk about life and meatloaf and quilting and the lake. I heard my dad talk about survival skills–in the wild (the city) and at home (the woods). I heard my best friend’s mother talk about life and death, vocation and happiness during an assignment for high school speech–it was better than any time I sat down to read any book. I have listened to a retired activist talk about his travels around the world, the people he’s met and the places he’s been.
Growing up, I heard people call me a queer and a fag. I heard adults that I looked up to tell me homosexuals were destined for hell–for they were selfish, free fornicators with no regard towards society or cultural institutions. I heard people call conservatives bigots and democrats socialists. I heard people characterize life as right or wrong, good or bad, here or there, friend or foe, ingroup or outgroup.
We don’t always choose what or who we listen to. We don’t pick our family. It’s rude to just randomly walk away from someone in conversation. It’s rude to just walk out of class. You do not control the items on your news feed or the emails in your inbox.
I’ve heard (and read) so much, that I rarely take anything honestly anymore. My brain (and I’m sure your’s as well) is mostly tuned to the implicit, the sarcastic, the quiet, the never-spoken-never-written message that nevertheless dominates the rhetoric flowing from the TV, the radio, and ourselves.
So, to address the email forwarded to me, to the message explicit and implicit:
- No, I don’t want Obama gone. He’s not the best, but he’s better than Romney.
- No, I don’t want our border’s “closed”. I want to make it easy for families to become citizens of the United States. No, I don’t want an official language, an official culture. I want pho and mexican rice and Chinese New Year and May Day and Kramarczuk’s and foreign film festivals and German beer and Holi and friends from all over the world who share with me even more possibilities on the spectrum of human experience. I don’t want to go to college just to find that every person grew up in a suburb, a slightly modified photocopy of the American dream.
- Yes, I do want people to follow the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Where women control their bodies, all couples have equal rights, and people are not judged or harassed for the gender they express. Where people’s reputations aren’t tarnished because they respect reason over faith. It’s shocking that in the land of the free, we have so many second-class citizens.
- I don’t want to screen poor people for drugs because that’s stupid and a waste of time and money. Instead of spending money trying to criminalize the poor, why don’t we spend our efforts trying to help them?
- When you say “We the people” you are clearly only referring to the subset of people that reside in these states. wtf?
It’s remarkable to me that in such a small email, the writer was able to convey so much meaning and emotion and response. What do you listen to? What do you read?
There’s actually a lot of good music out there. Even in the classical genre, there’s so many good pieces that are from different eras and are so remarkably diverse.
In the way I appreciate music, I also appreciate ideas. I embrace diversity, but I don’t think that diversity means you include a pangea of everything. I refuse to acknowledge viewpoints that so obviously discriminate against groups of people, have no regard for the environment, or any opportunity for growth, for progress. In the way I devalue certain types of music, I also devalue certain types of ideas. Welcome to the marketplace.
I could ask you what you to listen to. I’m more interested in why.