“When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama
Yesterday was a day that I am very proud of for many reasons. Because, dammit, in some crazy times when people have felt hopeless and lost, myself included, our community came together to LISTEN, CONNECT AND RESPECT one another! In our very diverse town of Smyrna, Georgia people from different faiths, races, political and social views, sexual preferences, and ethnicities came together to unite in LOVE.
Politics aside, for many there is no putting politics aside. This has caused so much division in people that I know. I have heard countless stories of long standing friendships being ended and blow out fights with family members. It’s been heartbreaking and puzzling all at the same time. And it made me think. How do we heal these wounds? How do we come together? Is it even possible?
If I’m being honest I did question if it was possible to come together and stop the name-calling, bullying and fighting. My gut reaction was probably like that of many people. The hurt is too deep. The rift too wide. But as I got quiet and really listened I began to hear the slightest whisper of the truth. The truth is, that no matter the distress and even grief that many are feeling there is one thing that we all have in common, no matter who you are or where you are from. And that commonality is the greatest uniter of all- love.
As I began to listen to the whisper and shared my thoughts with Rachel a plan began to form. What if WE were the ones to bring our community together? What if we invited people of all walks together to just listen to one another? To be vulnerable and authentic and share our stories so that we might better understand.
The saying “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” is a well known saying for a reason. But in this information age with the answer to everything at our fingertips we think we know it all! Or that we have to know it all! Therefore we don’t listen to a damn thing. We listen to respond so that we seem capable and smart. And we miss it all. The hurt, the grief, the fear, the sadness, the connection.
“....treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them and even if you don’t agree with them.” Michelle Obama
Smyrna Unites was about LISTENING. When we listen deeply we can truly connect with one another and be more compassionate and respectful. If you want to see a change you MUST be the change. Maybe this saying is overused and cliche, but I still believe it. When we listen to someone share their story and their heart, we put our armor down and we begin to understand. We begin to see them and we can have compassion and empathy.
On the eve of this historic election I am filled with hope. Of course I HOPE that the candidates that I voted for are elected. And though I may be disappointed if they are not, I know that it is my responsibility to show up in my community and do the work. It’s my responsibility to get to know my elected officials. It’s my responsibility to listen to them and it’s their job to listen to me. And above all it’s incumbent upon us both to RESPECT one another.
So it is that tonight, tomorrow and the days to come I call on you to look within and reflect on how you can better listen, connect and respect your neighbor, your friend, your family member.
When the video footage is ready to share we will post it for everyone to see. And when you need hope, inspiration and motivation to carry on, regardless of what’s going on around you I hope that you will watch with an open mind and heart and you will realize the important part that YOU play in the community.
We finished our event with an exercise in acknowledging our unique personalities, gifts and talents. As each of us held a piece of colorful fabric we were reminded of the beauty in the patchwork of our community when we come together. We are interwoven and interconnected. We must never forget that! We must never forget to LISTEN.CONNECT. RESPECT.
With Love and Gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel