Have you noticed how much SHOUTING there is online right now?
Over the past week, I have grown a tremendous amount by learning from experience, and I want to share one of the lessons. Whether you listen or not is up to you. I’m not going to be saying anything groundbreaking or new. I’m going to be passing along wisdom known for thousands of years that I should have applied to my daily life sooner. Experience is what proves wisdom correct, and hammers home that it is worth listening to. Feel free to try it out and see if it proves itself to you, too.
I have engaged in a great number of conversations via Twitter this week. Some of my replies were ignored, and some were responded to with rage-filled shouting. However a number – enough to make the effort worthwhile – developed into deep conversation that changed my way of thinking, and in essence, changed me.
One of the keys to these conversations was my own attitude. I did not enter the debates so keen to be “right” or prove a point that I was unwilling to listen and give credit where it was due. I saw something someone said, and responded. When they came back with a reply, I sat with it, pushing away any angry retorts and refining my own reply until it was clear and kind. As a result, lives were changed.
I have discovered what so many thinkers throughout the ages already knew: Being open makes a difference. Our world is so closed right now. We believe we are right, so we try to shout down anyone who thinks differently. After all, they would shout us down, right? Yet this past week I’ve found that no, for the most part if you don’t shout at them, they WON’T shout back. Maybe initially, as we’ve trained ourselves to go on immediate offensive because “everyone else does,” but if you are open, honest, and sometimes a even a little vulnerable with your words, a lot of human beings act like better human beings.
I said online this past week “Every day and conversation that goes by I am more and more convinced that until we look inward, there is no hope for the outward.”
While I don’t consider myself as wise as the Dalai Lama, today one of his tweets echoed similar sentiments: “The very purpose of spirituality is self-discipline. Rather than criticizing others, we should evaluate and criticize ourselves. Ask yourself, what am I doing about my anger, my attachment, my pride, my jealousy? These are the things we should check in our day to day lives.”
We have the power, right now, to look inward. We can change ourselves so much more easily than changing others.
When we enter conversation with this openness, rather than clutching Pride with both fists, people notice. Conversations happen. Unity can be found. But only if we make the effort. Effort is what it will take. Because it is far harder to act this way, in a way the world often refuses to act. It is absolutely worth it, though.