Posted by howard in nyc
People just don't listen. This simple fact I have had a difficult time accepting, hence I need to be slapped in the face over and over before the fact sinks in.
Yesterday was the most recent slap. I met a dude in the locker room at the gym (get your minds out of the gutter--anyway, it's consenting adults, dammit!) We engaged in a friendly, amicable politial argument about the direction of the nation, and our objections to the president's five-year reign.
As anyone who knows me or reads this mess of a blog is well aware, I think Barry has been a terrible president. So did this fellow. However, his stated reasons for disliking Obama (socializing the whole country, giving away too much to the poor) were very different than mine (ruinous monetary and fiscal policy that favors banks and wall street at the expense of the rest of us, a health care fiasco that enriches pharma and insurance companies at the expense of the rest of us, expanding senseless war and growing security state).
He seemed bemused by our different opinions, and commented (twice) on the beauty of the free exchange of vastly different opinions. He closed our conversation (or attempted to do so) by saying, "It is good that we disagree; I think Obama is a bad president, while you think he is a great president."
I was momentarily speechless. I had described my opinion of Obama as a terrible president, as clearly and as vigorously as I typically do; I had clearly stated that what struck me about our argument was our agreement on the conclusion, but our very different reasons for reaching our shared conclusion. There was no language barrier.
Only a listening barrier. At some point in our conversation, I have to presume, my new friend had decided 1) this dude disagrees with me; 2) no reason to listen any further to his actual words.
He looked as if he was listening; he responded with the non-verbal and verbal cues typical of someone engaged in a conversational back-and-forth that typically includes listening to one's counterparty.
But had he actually heard and even minimally processed even a fraction of my (voluminous) diatribe, concluding my opinion was that Obama is a great president would've been impossible.
But, a few minutes later, it sunk in just a bit deeper; People just do not listen.
Smart, intelligent, thinking people. They routinely suspend processing what they see, what they hear, what they read, even what they know to be true. They do not look, they do not listen, they do not think, because it is so much easier and so much more emotionally satisfying.
Because Amerians have been conditioned to do so, to suspend listening and other higher cognitive processes, in favor of feelings and emotions. Conditioned by literal millions of television ads, entreaties from authority figures their entire lives in school, at work, in encounters with burearcracies and commercial entities engaged in selling and 'customer service'.
Americans are out of practice, this listening and thinking thing. Just as surely as we are out of practice for this exercise thing. This eating healthy food thing.
We were taught when crossing a street, we must Stop, Look and Listen. Somewhere back there, we also were taught to watch, listen and learn. Think, too. But, as I get slapped over and over, I need to learn (and accept), there ain't a whole lot of listening going on around here.
I continue to judge the world (and Obama) based on what I see, not what I feel, believe or emote. Yeah, kinda lonely, this method. Kinda concerting, too. Cause I see a lot of bad, weird stuff. Buildings falling down. NSA monitoring millions of Americans making billions of phone calls. Scandals involving the IRS, listening to and intimidating reporters, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, bankers in the cabinet, Holder committing serial perjury. More and more media emphasis on Justin, Amanda, Paris Jackson, PEDs in baseball and other trivial bullshit.
Things are slowly, yet inexorably falling apart. I see it; I hear the important sounds they make. Yeah, it is frustrating because nearly everyone else don't look, don't listen, or don't think enough to be bothered. I'm getting used to it.