Vol.XVI No.VIII Pg.1
October 1979

Are You Listening?

Robert F. Turner

As a small boy I wrote plays, and "our gang" of the neighborhood built a stage, put on a show. We sold tickets to grown-ups on the streets — usually getting enough for a few ice cream cones. But what we really remember and cherish is the fact that sheriff George Newman came to the show. He honored us by listening!

A current T.V. commercial in this part of the country claims superiority for its sponsor because "We listen!" Nor do they stop with a slogan. They claim to have training schools for their employees, and executives, in the art of listening. There is no denying they have offered something the public appreciates — a willingness to hear the customer's message.

Listening says something. It says, "I respect you as an equal. I am willing to hear your side and give it proper consideration." By listening we climb down from our imagined ivory tower, and join the human race. We acknowledge that someone else knows something — we may learn something. And while one is listening he is less susceptible to hoof-in-mouth disease.

There is no telling how many rifts and separations could be avoided if we would learn to listen. False accusations and straw-man arguments could give way to a well-defined issue, and even if the speaker is in error our rebuttal would be more effective by getting to the heart of the matter. And if he is right...

Have you ever gotten the feeling that in your home parents and children are yelling their lungs out, and no one is listening? In school, in government, in management-labor relations, we are forming committees who can express our views — to whom?? The wisest and most practical solutions to our problems are effective only if someone quits talking long enough to listen. We are a tribe of "Heap Big Chiefs" — and no Indians.

I can not claim to be a good listener; and perhaps this is written as self-rebuke, or penance. It could satisfy my guilt complex, and still not give others their deserved attention.

Jesus blessed the ears that hear (Matt. 13:10-16). ARE YOU LISTENING??