Sean Devlin

Maybe we should all just shut the hell up for five minutes.

I understand with an opening like that, many people may tell me alone to close my mouth. Well, I’ve been trying. 

When I think about the hot-button topics like athletes kneeling during the anthem or how the current administration is performing, I imagine a cartoon. In the center of the frame is a ditch: a flat bottomed, empty ditch. Above the ditch are two groups on either side. They are yelling.

Spit is showering the ground and heads of others while white knuckles strike nothing but air.

Of course to imagine just two sides is naive, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll use two. 

These groups look identical. Angry and clearly not listening to a damn thing the other side is saying. And, if they are listening, the opposing side’s words are filtered through a customized strainer and the message arrives over the ditch skewed and met with laughs and sarcasm. 

I think we’ve abandoned the tool of conversation; it sits hungry in a dark corner. 

Our ears are there too, sulking and craving to actually listen to the words of another human.

When I am able to move from my opinions and beliefs, the cartoon becomes a motion picture. I see both sides relax their tense faces and tables and chairs appear in the ditch...some coffee and a bit of whiskey, too. 

However, before the chairs become occupied, both sides disperse in the opposite direction of the ditch. People even begin to distance themselves from those on their own side. Hands rest on heads, lungs fill and release, and people stretch their limbs and shake their heads before heading towards the center.

With clear eyes people take up chairs, all mixing together until the sides are indistinguishable. 

Conversation ensues, perspectives are considered, compared, contrasted. Questions begin to be asked and understanding takes the seat of anger.

Agreement may not be all too present but the idea that “I’m just right” is gone. 

This is ideal. We rarely think something that is ideal will ever come to fruition. However, if we consider the value of conversation, perspective and, ultimately, empathy...why is it not believable? 

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Narrative 4, the empathy-building through storytelling non-profit. I can’t help but think of their message as our news and ever-dividing politics grows each day.

Have a conversation with someone you know you differ immensely from in opinion. Sit and have a chat and listen to why they think it’s wrong to kneel during the anthem and, in turn, that person should listen to you about why you feel differently. Perspective is a curtain-puller. Anger and arrogance just keep those curtains closed.

Chat soon.