I have been listening to Anderson Cooper’s 360 podcast this week. Reluctantly. I want in-depth coverage so I know where to direct my prayers, but I’ve been tempted to turn it off several times. As the reporters narrate, the background plays a steady, unrelenting stream of protesters shouting. The energy is too much for me to take in and I want to escape to the silence of my privileged white anchorage and chant “All shall be well.”
I keep listening because those protesters in Minneapolis and elsewhere around the US and the globe, deserve the respect of deep listening. Not listening and analyzing words; rather, a deep listening for feelings that describe experiences.This is the kind of listening that can bring a just peace. Hundreds of oppressed citizens have literally put their lives on the line to tell me they can endure no more. The least I can do is listen.
In his book Silence: The Power Of Quiet In A World Full Of Noise, Thich Nhat Hanh tells of Avalokita, the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening. The name means “the one who listens deeply to the sounds of the world.” “Bodhisattva” refers to someone with great compassion who works tirelessly to mitigate the suffering of others. I, we, can be a Bodisattva of deep listening by willing ourselves to take in the energy of those who are crying out for justice. We can send back a sound of peace and healing. We can send back a commitment to act for a just peace.
May it be so.