I was sitting at coffee, eaves-dropping on the table next to me . . . . er, uh . . . I mean . . . minding my own business, when I hear the guy say,
“Nope! Never had a vacation in 15 years! Never had a reason to leave home.”
While I sipped my whipped chocolate java goodness, my mind wandered to places I visited years ago. It’s been a long time since I ventured very far from Minnesota. Funny how one year can turn into four, and the next thing you know, you’re sitting in a coffee shop telling your buddy you have no reason to leave the comfort of your home
Now, I’m not one to eaves drop. Well . . . okay . . . I am, and you can read about that here. But let me be very clear that the guy deserved my eaves-dropping for two reasons.
- He was very loud.
- While I was enjoying my first sip, he said, “Good morning, how are you?” Not in a your-eyes-meet-and-its-just-a-polite-thing-to-do sort of way. He said it in a “Hey, little lady” I-hadn’t-even-glanced-in-his-direction sort of way. It was awkward.
So yeah, he’s just asking to be overheard . . . and judged.
When I zeroed back in on the conversation, he was telling his friend all about what the people around the world think of Americans. “They don’t like us,” he said.
Now, this may be true or not. We’ve all heard people say it. I’ve also heard people talk about their travels and how nice everyone was to them. But here’s the thing . . . on what experience was his statement based?
Is he watching his favorite news channel? Back in the day, it didn’t run all day and night. There was the 5:00 and the 10:00. They lasted for an hour, and if you only wanted the weather, you knew when to tune in. How long does it take to report the real stories in a factual manner? Now we have channels with nothing but news 24/7 and they have to fill in the gaps with personal accounts packed with opinions. With all these viewpoints being aired, they found it necessary to have not one, but several, different 24-hour news stations to cater to everyone’s perspective. Presto! You now have your world views validated every hour of the day without challenge.
Fewer people than ever have the newspaper delivered to their door. When I was a kid, almost every house on my block got the paper. My parents sat down each day to catch up on current events. They budgeted time in their morning routine because it was important to them. Sure, some newspapers lean one way or another, but they only have that one issue a day to interest everyone, so they tend to offer a buffered perspective.
These days our information is digitally delivered on the internet. And do you know what the internet recommends for you? Links that it knows you will like based on what you clicked in the past.
It’s all just marketing. You see, they need to tell us something we agree with. Because the more people who subscribe, click, follow, like and retweet, the more money they make. Unfortunately, we are all becoming convinced there is no other valid opinion but our own.
“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.”
— Frank A. Clark
It is sometimes difficult to listen to another point of view; to find out that we may have been wrong — to think we may have spent 15 years sitting in our living room watching t.v. instead of seeing the world. No one wants to be wrong, but when we are always right, we stop evolving.
Bringing myself out of my thoughts and back to reality, my loud neighbor was now talking about gun control. He was quoting Archie Bunker who was not only a fictional character, but one who failed to evolve forty years ago. I couldn’t wait to go home and Google “Archie Bunker on gun control” to educate myself.
I must always stay open to the possibility that I am wrong. There is a splendid gift in being given the truth. We need only be open to receiving it.
Please don’t make the mistake of interpreting this post as a political one. This is about pulling your head of the sand (or wherever you might have it) and seeing all that is around you. Challenge that which you have always believed. Listen consciously. Speak carefully. Grow deeply.
Peace . . .