Many of us have become completely deaf to the simple practice of how to listen. It’s surely nothing new. Human beings have never held it readily among their superpowers. But as time passes and polarization widens, we’ve grown perilously unable to make any progress together on real problems that needs solving. Instead we find ourselves in serial boxing matches, more interested in swinging with the attachments to our positions as a means to assure our personal opinions are not knocked out of the ring of conversation.
It’s a lifeless light/dark, win/lose game that assures no mutual gain.
In listening to some recent political banter, I overheard: “By the way, were you so outraged when______did this, and were only outraged when ______did that? What hypocrisy!”
That is not a question that seeks to probe another’s opinion. It’s an assumption with a question mark, followed by a judgment with an exclamation point. It’s a punch of decree rather than a means to any real dialogue.
We’re all guilty of this even if we shape our words, punctuate perfectly and keep our assumptions well hidden. Maybe this is what is called shadow boxing? A way to keep us going nowhere, spiraling in a ring of “equal-knocks?”
Nature has a message for us in the turn of the seasons if we’re willing to listen.
Notice how we think (and talk about) the equinox, as a time of equal day and equal night. As if day and night are two separate entities like the on/off switch on the nearby wall? Similar to the right/wrong in the red and blue of politics or the win/lose paradigms of argument?
The fundamental truth is there is only One light: simply more or less brighter shades. We need all forms and to make choices about what is most suited for our mutual thriving.
For example: Best not to perform surgery by candlelight or have a romantic dinner for two under bright fluorescents. That’s easy to figure out. Solutions to complex problems aren’t so obvious. They require us to get familiar with All of positions of light—the full spin of the dimmer–not just the off and on switch.
It’s time to listen. To watch for our own versions of shadow boxing and to get back in the ring of life.
Maybe Autumn Equinox 2022 will be the turning point? It’s up to each of us to decide.