Politics. The stereotypical image of politics is a bunch of talking heads. Unfortunately the 24-hour, soundbite, gotcha national media has created a mess of our political system and in some way or another we are all willing participants.
I saw an ad running through the social media channels regarding the healthcare debate. Essentially it said we don’t want a right solution or left solution (referring to the political spectrum), rather we want a forward solution. The ad spoke to me. It tells me that there is a population of citizens who care about sound policy and not the group-fractionalizing identity politics. It also was a plea for our elected officials to stop talking and do more listening.
I recently read Proverbs 18. “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” (Proverbs 18:2). “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
We need to listen, but to what? Here are some ideas:
- For those who work in politics, maybe it’s okay to come down off your position for a while to hear other perspectives. Even though your position may not change you will gain understanding – and this helps one to communicate his cause more effectively.
- For the media – stop! Just please stop. Take several steps back. America feels like you’ve already written the story before you ask the questions. Stop yelling into the television and tweeting provoking messages. You can help educate the electorate, but you don’t need to tell us how we should think.
- For us citizens – educate ourselves. Part of our listening responsibility is to understand sound policy, to have a basic understanding of economics, and to learn from policies of the past. We play into the soundbite politics. We vote with our emotions, not our minds (this is generalized statement, of course).
At Three Point Strategies we try to follow the lessons of Proverbs 18. We listen to our clients and their concerns while encouraging them to listen to policy-makers. We can’t advocate until we understand. And we can’t understand until we listen.
Proverbs concludes, “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:20-21).
We are what we say. Listening will help our words and positions be more compassionate and understanding.