Presidential Listenings

We don’t listen very much.  We post, we tweet, we read and respond, but we don’t listen to other people and really try to understand.  What if instead of a series of debates we had a series of presidential listenings where the task was for each side to gain from the other as full an understanding as possible of their position.  Would we not know more at the end of such listenings than we do after the fairly empty rhetoric of the debates in which each candidate is trying to talk over and past the other?

We may not get national listenings instead of debates, but we can have them in our own life.  Today find one or more people with whom you disagree on any subject.  Ask that person to explain their position and understanding to you and do everything you can to listen.  Ask only questions of clarification and leave the conversation at that.  Maybe one time will turn into many on a host of issues, not just politics and religion, but even the playoffs.

About Ragan Sutterfield

Ragan Sutterfield is a writer and Episcopal seminarian sojourning from his native Arkansas in Alexandria, Virginia. He is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, Farming as a Spiritual Discipline and a contributor to the book Sacred Acts: How churches are working to protect the Earth’s climate. Ragan’s articles and essays have appeared in a variety of magazines including Triathlete, The Oxford American, and Books & Culture. He works to live the good life with his wife Emily and daughter Lillian.