Monday, September 27, 2010

I Hear You

Freedom of speech carries with it some freedom to listen.

Bob Marley
To listen is one of those freedoms few people ever seem to take advantage of. It's easy to get people to stop listening. If I tell you everything you want to hear you won't listen to anything else I have to say. That's the secret behind political rhetoric.

As an actor one of the best lessons I learned was the importance of listening. Even if you've heard the other character's speech a hundred times you have to listen to it carefully and let it sink into your thoughts or you won't be abler to respond accurately and artistically.

I used to teach a seminar in public speaking and one of the things I told my class was that when you are addressing a room full of people on a controversial issue there are three types of listeners: those who agree with you, those who don't and those who aren't sure. Those who agree with you will continue to agree. You want to convince those who aren't sure and make them believers. The best you can probably hope to accomplish with those who disagree is to make them unsure. But in any case they are there to listen to you.

If you are talking only to people who agree with you then there isn't much need for rhetoric of any kind and any argument is pointless. Such was the case with the recent rally in DC to honor our troops as if they weren't being honored. Who doesn't honor our troops even if one disagrees with the wars? Where was the argument? What was the issue?

When there are opposing points of view they have the right to be heard and considered. But at some of the various town meetings across the country in regard to the health care program people came not to discuss or to listen to their elected representatives or to learn the facts, they didn't come in with polemics or opposing arguments or to reason but to yell, insult and disrupt, all under the banner of freedom of speech. The freedom to listen was not exercised.

There is no doubt that the freedom of speech, as with freedom of the press and other rights, are misused. But the freedom to listen isn't.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

1 response so far.

Thank you.


Big Mark 243 said...

Listening is an art that few of us even understand let alone master. With all the noise in the world and ego in most of us, we are overly concerned in being heard, as if attention is a currency.

pacifica62 said...

I have to agree with Big Mark. People love to talk more than they love to listen. In fact listening is a dying art. Many of us complain about others never listening to us, they never hear what I have to say, they don't want to listen. Good listeners are very rare. Most of us would do well to shut up and listen more than we talk.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Interesting perspective, I wholly agree. Listening is an art, and one we should all practice.

Gerry said...

At one time I became very conscious that I was not a very good listener, and so I deliberately started to focus on other people as often as I could, asking them questions about themselves. I learned a great deal that I otherwise would not have done if I had not learned to ask questions and to listen to the response. Now I notice at my age it is unusual to show that much interest in someone else.

Anonymous said...

Many people are just waiting for you(or me) to shut up so they can talk again.
They are thinking of what they will say when you(or I) do shut up.

That has been my experience. ~Mary