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Listenining to each other is one of the hardest things to do in today's busy world. If only someone could listen to me, if only I could listen to what you had to say, if only we could all learn to listen to one another.

Who is you neighbour? Who is your work colleague? Do you know what their day was like? or do you go through the motions of the day, simply grunting and grumbling and murmuring and if you dare to say something you chose to are are you?...and anxiously hope they say, "I am good"...that way, you can quickly go on with your business and finish off what you were doing. Well next time....I urge you to go further and ask, how are you really doing? Say something more than hello and you may not only surprise your friend,colleague, neighbour but you may also surprise yourself by discovering something new about that person.

Its amazing what you discover from such a candid conversation,you discover something new about someone, you discover...hmmm there is more to that person than meets the could be that you gain more insight into who they are, that helps explain certain things about them.

What am i getting at? I will reiterate my point..."LISTEN".

I believe many of our leaders in society lack this ability, they are so caught up and engaged in ensuring that their voice gets heard, that they manage to drown out the ability to listen to the voice that counts the most. The voice that helped them get to power, the voice of the orphan the simply wants someone to know what he/she is going through, the disabled person, that simply wants recognition.

I myself am guilty of that. It is so easy to be selfish and self-centred and simply focus on what we as individuals want, what I as an individual want to covey to the world by my actions. But today I choose to think of what you may want, what you are seeking to achieve, to listen and read what your hopes and dreams are, what challenges you face. Today i chose to LISTEN, to look at things from your perspective without passing judgement or condemntation, simply to understand where you come from.

Today if i went to my grandfather's home in Uganda, I would ask him to explain to talk to me on about his beliefs, tell him to help me understand why he belives strongly that having more than one wife is good and why he seeks to continue the tradition within the family? I would ask him why he still holds strongly to his beliefs in culture. I would ask him what his views are about today's world and culture?...... I would LISTEN. In turn I would hope that he would also ask me my views and ask me what my beliefs are, having grown up a city girl, having had an education and the opportinity to be brought up in a totally diffrent envionment from his. I would be happy with such a dialogue.

My opinion is this, as an individual, do not take kindly to someone telling me that my beliefs are wrong, that my culture is wrong and that I should change for whatever reasons. I think most people are like that, please correct me if i am wrong. That is not to say that I cannot be conviced to look at things from a different perspective. It all comes down to how i am approached, how someone seeks to convice me that i need to look at things differently.

For this reason I thank God for empathy, empathy is the capacity to share and understand another's emotion and feelings. It is often characterized as the ability to "put oneself into another's shoes", or in some way experience what the other person is feeling. Empathy does not necessarily imply compassion, sympathy or empathic concern because this capacity can be present in context of compassionate or cruel behavior.

As women we have the capacity to bring about tremendous change, how this is done, is up to each and every indivdual. I understand if you are in a business board room, you may be forced to play hard ball, during war time, you could be the compasssionate mother, sister. wife that keeps the family together anyway you know how. or you could the militant or militatnt support. After war as women we could be the instruments to bring about peace. I never underestimate the power of women to bring about change.

For this reason i chose to keep an open mind and open ear. I cannot close off my ear to the man who still wants his daughter to under go Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). In order for me to try and ensure i bring him around to see things from my perspective of why I believe FGM is harmful...I too deserve to show the same courtesy, whether i agree with him or not. If he does not listen and i do not listen...where does that leave us?

In the same manner i strongly believe that we cannot bring about change and shut the door to the males. If we believe they play a contribution of women's ill's in today's society? How can we shun them? How can we seek to bring about change without being all inclusive in bringing about change. As someone quite rightly pointed out in one of their journals, as women we are preaching to the converted. We need to open our dialogoue to the wider audience in the same way we would like to be heard....let us also seek to LISTEN and have a diaogue.

What are your views? I am ready to listen.......


Jennifer Ruwart's picture

A Listening Exercise...

The World Pulse staff had the opportunity to attend a 2-day workshop last summer that focused on cross-cultural dialogue. It was not like anything I've ever done before. One of the exercises we did was to LISTEN to a partner. For five minutes we just sat there and listened. During the five minutes, we didn't ask questions, interrupt, agree/disagree, challenge or even support! And when our partner's five minutes were up, that was it. We didn't ask questions, interrupt, agree/disagree,challenge or even support! We listened and witnessed whatever they wanted to share. It was very powerful.

Jennifer Ruwart
Chief Collaborator
JR Collaborations

I must cofess i need to practice what i preach and guess with whom? My partner :o). When we have disagreemnts its funny but i will not let him get a word or a say. I just want him to listen to my perspective and my point. YUP! Busted.

One days he actully said " I wish you could listen to yourself". iIwas outraged by that comment, but when i DID LISTEN to what he meant. I knew that i had not been listening to his perspectibve but concentatrting on getting my point across.

I will definitely put this excersise to the test.

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