After truly listening for a while, we learn that every party to a conflict is suffering, that every act of violence comes from an unhealed wound. We learn to stretch our capacity to be present to another’s pain, to affirm their humanity at the deepest level.
It’s easy to listen to people with whom we agree. It’s when we listen to those with whom we disagree that listening becomes a challenge. It’s no simple thing to do this. It calls for seeing through any masks of fear or hostility to the sacredness of each individual. Sometimes we listeners must dig deep within ourselves to move beyond our judgments and opinions.
When we compassionately tune into others, victim and victimizer, rich and poor, empowered and disempowered are unimaginably interconnected. We find that love cracks our hearts open; it tells exactly what this broken world needs from us. Isn’t it the cry of everyone’s heart to hear someone say, “Yes, I hear you. I feel what you’re feeling. I understand”?
In listening to others, this is what I have learned: within sorrow, there is grace. When we come close to those things that break us down, we touch those things that also break us open. And in that breaking open, we uncover our true nature.