Politicians, business tycoons and other media celebrities are not alone in their desire to leave behind some worthwhile legacy. This idea of leaving behind something of value must be almost universal among adult human beings, once a person has come to terms with his or her mortality. Nobody really wants to feel that their transient life is utterly insignificant, something to be blown away like dust in the wind, with nothing to mark our few decades of life in this world. Hence the importance people put on founding a successful business, making their mark in society, making provision for some monument to their memory once they have passed on. But the most universal legacy of all is what parents leave behind to their children, by their example and the wisdom they try to share. Part of that wisdom is communication. Listening not to reply but to understand so as to better reply if a reply is necessary.
How are we to receive the message of another? We welcome them and listen to them , giving them an open mind and an open heart. We don’t have to agree with them – just give them a hearing. Consider their arguments; imagine ourselves in their place and see it from their point of view. How are we to respond when another does not hear our message? Walk away. Where did we get the idea that if people don’t agree with us it is our job to keep trying to persuade, or worse, attack them – either with words or weapons? Why do so many of our young folks feel that they need to keep their thoughts about significant issues to themselves so they don’t offend someone’s culture, religion, beliefs or sentiments? Conversation about differences doesn’t need to be offensive.
This kind of dialogue needs wisdom, courage and sensitivity. We need to speak out in order to continue the search for truth and justice in our time. It also requires a discerning heart, a heart resting in divine truth and goodness. Our job is to invite, but to change minds, hearts and behavior is the work of the Holy One.
(Adapted from ACP & Diane Jorgensen)