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Why I believe in listening


Listening extends, deepens and corrects my thinking.

Sometimes listening is very hard work.  Sometimes the people we most need to hear are those whose voices are the most intolerable.  They are loud, harsh, off-key–and yet, even these discordant voices have truth to tell.

The Tea Party is one of those discordant voices for me.  Just imagining the voices of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann makes me want to cover my ears and say “La-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” to drown them out.

But Monday’s Weekly Sift sent me to a video by Lawrence Lessig, whose lefty voice is very easy on my ears.  And while my guard was down, I heard something that the Tea Party folks have been saying.

I’ve been really frustrated with the GOP/Tea Party message that government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.  It drives me crazy when conservatives talk about taxes being our money that we give to the government.

My own voice rising in volume, becoming more harsh, I’ve been saying to anyone who will listen, “Don’t you know that WE are the government?  As in, ‘We the people of the United States.’ As in, ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ ”

But then I watched Lessig’s video, and heard a helpful corrective.

Liberals are dreamers, idealists.  We love the idea of democratic government so much that sometimes we lose sight of reality.  And the reality is that government is the problem.  Not government of, by and for the people.  Government of, by and for the funders.

Doesn’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone?

We don’t have the democratic ideal right now.  We have the age-old tyranny of the rich and powerful, masquerading as democracy.   The ideal isn’t completely gone, but there’s only a thin sliver of it left.

If we’re all covering our ears and shouting at the top of our lungs, democracy is doomed.  But if we can uncover our ears, and learn to listen past our differences, Goliath doesn’t stand a chance.


2 thoughts on “Why I believe in listening

  1. Can you explain a bit more about your objection to the conservative view that the government uses our money…. thanks!

    • Hi, Kristofer. I believe we are the government, in the same way that individual members of a family ARE that family. The parallel would be a family member who objects to contributing $$ from his/her paycheck to help pay the family’s expenses.

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