“Shut Up and Be Open” may sound like a contradiction. Not really. I realized this as I was perusing some blogs at the Daily Post this morning. When I am considering responding to a prompt from any writers’ group, I like to see what other writers say on a topic, partly to make sure I don’t accidentally repeat what another has already written, but mainly because I like to hear what others say. Not everyone does this. I don’t always do this. A lot of times it is just because I am too busy. But I have to admit that sometimes I just don’t want to hear anyone else.
How this is in other realms of life: we don’t want to be open to new or different ideas, yet we want to project to the world our feelings, our ideas, our agenda. This has become more apparent to me over the last few months — and especially in the last few days — as I watch the news outlets. You have one screeching politician lambasting another bellicose, pontificating buffoon — who then in turn does the same thing back. You see panels of pundits on the news shows shouting over each other while the moderators ask absurd questions with the seeming intent of pouring more gasoline on the fire. No one is listening to each other, no one is open to even the possibility of accepting another point of view. It is then I start shouting at my television “Stop it! What is wrong with you people! Can’t you all just shut up for one minute and be open to what the other is saying?” It doesn’t make for good ratings, I guess, if everyone is civil to each other.
Now, I cannot do anything about what others do or say, whether they are listening or not. I can do something about myself. I am going to make it a daily practice to read or listen with close attention to at least one person who has a different point of view.
I am not going to argue with that person if I disagree. I don’t have to heed them. But I will be open. I am just going to shut up and listen.