Now is the Time to Listen and Learn

Image under licence -AdobeStock

Although I am very politically engaged personally, I try to steer clear of discussing current events on my blog. I’m very aware that not everyone who reads this will share the same opinions as me and, more importantly, that you don’t read my updates to catch up on current affairs.

The global ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in America have, however, impacted most, if not all of us. I have mainly kept my counsel, spending more time reflecting and educating myself. I have tried to engage with angry racists¬†on social media in a balanced and intelligent way, trying to understand and debate their thoughts but have just been met with a barrage of slogans and insults.

It’s not easy to try to open discourse with those not willing to engage and I don’t recommend it for the faint hearted or thin skinned. It was something that I felt I needed to do but urge caution before you do the same.

What we can do, however, is seek to learn more ourselves. For those of us who are not black or in another minority group, now is a good time to talk to our friends who are and try to understand their experiences. It will be uncomfortable and we won’t always get things right but if we genuinely try to understand we won’t be getting much wrong.

If you are angry about the protests and statues, seek to find out why people have acted the way they have. You don’t need to condone it, but seek to understand first.

I have seen some very powerful videos that have helped me to learn more and reflect on this issue. Speeches by Al Sharpton in the US and John Boyega in the UK stand out for me and John Oliver’s HBO show this week was extremely impactful, as was Hasan Minaj’s ten minute extra on Netflix appealing to Asian Americans. The video shared at the end of John Oliver’s show in particular is hard hitting, raw and challenging.

 

I’d like to share with you a video a good friend of mine, David McQueen, posted on YouTube (above). David is very eloquent speaker and leader and this video really made me think hard and reflect. It challenged me and really kicked off this journey of understanding.

Thank you for bearing with me as I’ve gone off topic a bit this week. But have I really? After all, don’t listening and understanding lie at the heart of true human connection? If we can learn through this experience to better understand the journey other people are on, then hopefully all of our relationships will benefit and become deeper and stronger as a result.

This month, connecting is definitely not enough.