Question of the Day: Listening

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We are moving along with the this book, sometimes spending two weeks on a chapter. This week, the chapter was about listening to one another.

Adam Hamilton writes,

One of the reasons for today’s culture wars is the unwillingness of people on either the left or the right to listen to those with whom they disagree. They are quick to speak, and quick to anger, but slow to listen. (p43)

What do you think?

The GOP won control of the House on Tuesday. Fine. But the Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and yet…. Boehner and Mitchell are both demanding that the President bow to them like, pardon my vulgarity, the boy that he is. There will be no compromise, no listening, nothing. No matter that over half of this country didn’t participate in the vote, or that the majority of them are still Democrat. There is simply no compromise.

No listening. Nothing.

Do you think that we can learn, especially in a democratic republic, from listening to one another, and working with one another? Can we? Should we?

And, to what point is compromise a viable option? Not just in politics and the culture wars, but so too in our congregations and theological squabbles…

Do we ever seek to understand one another, to compromise where we can?

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30 Replies to “Question of the Day: Listening”

  1. Ditto.

    Frankly, I think it is the fact that we are ultimately left with only 2 very powerful parties that is the problem; that and the fact that our election system is structured where ‘winner’ takes all. Nobody has any real political reason (if they hope to have a political future within a specific powerful party) to compromise even if it’s for the good of the whole. (I think about Solomon and the baby and which one is willing to cut the baby in half…that pretty much sums up the state of today’s politics…they are ALL ready to cut up the baby to prevent the other from getting it)

    I doubt there will come the day when we will be able to agree even on amending the electoral structure to something more similar to Canada’s; where even the minority parties get seats in Congress…but that would go along way in defusing the polarization and extreme political partisanship that currently exists…where one election we swing to one extreme and in the next the other and 50% or so of the nation is always unhappy and claims there is no democracy since ‘their’ party didn’t win.

    1. I am not a fan of the parliamentary system of the Commonwealth, but I would favor third parties. It is not the Congressional system that needs to be reformed so much as local election laws. Most State laws almost exclude third party systems, meaning that they are often on the fringe and rarely stable. We need to go to a better system which allows third and fourth parties, as well as, in my opinion, public financing.

  2. First, what about the democratic party that literally shut out republican participation the past two years, in spite of their existence in Congress.
    Second, its hogwash that over 50% of this country didn’t participate in the election, unless your mean by that those who aren’t eligible to vote because of age, or not yet citizens. All eligible voters participated either by choosing to vote or by choosing not to vote. Choosing not to vote is your participation and you have no place to complain, then, of the consequences.
    Third, your pejorative statement about the Republican leaders “demanding that the President bow to them like, pardon my vulgarity, the boy that he is,” indicates that you did not learn from the book. They have not “demanded that he bow” nor refer to him as “boy.” They are expecting this President, who has not shown respect to to the free people that he serves, show respect to them by working with those they have elected in a landslide turnover in Congress.
    Compromise is not always viable. Particularly when the compromise would compromise our freedom. Government is not our surogate.

    1. You mean when the GOP said that they were the party of no…. and that they intended to stop everything that the President tried to do, or that they refused to talk on anything, even on their own issues?

      Um, no. By not voting doesn’t mean that they chose to participate. Instead, it does limit parties from saying ‘the country did this… and gave me a mandate…’ because really, the country didn’t.

      The President is one of the most constitutional Presidents that we’ve had in a very long time, actually. By their words and actions they are diminishing the President, and have done so since he was elected, and even before. Working with is not working for. There is no doubt that he is available for compromise, although the GOP and the wingnuts of the Tea Party crowd has said no to compromise unless he comes over to them. I have been listening, and what I have heard is the same racial slang used in a previous generation.

      ‘Comprise our freedom’ hahahhahaha. That’s laughable.

      1. Stopping everything the President tries to do is exactly what many of us voted them in to do. If one believes the government & country is headed in the wrong direction, then, stopping that direction is exactly what is needed
        They could have participated by voting for alternative party candidates, or starting their own party, if so desirerd. I do agree with you that that should be easier to do. The two major partiesshould not be allowed to block out alternatives to their message.
        Every President has been constitutionally elected, even Bush. However, being elected does not empower him to legislate. That is not his constitutional authority. It is Congress that bears that burden, and that is why it was the “Democratic Party Congress of 2007-present that is responsible for teh calamity we find ourselves in now.
        Compromise our freedom is laughable? Its unconstitutional. And most of these elected officials and unelected bureaucrats ought to be hung publicly for their crimes.

        Finally, where is the racial slang? Are you listening to the left? Because, they are the ones who hold to and spout forth the politics of hatred and enslavement.

      1. Where was this sentiment during the Bush administration? Where was all of this frustration during eight years of wanton taxation, capricious expansion of the Executive Powers of the Office of the President (and Vice President), and colossal expansion of government while turning a sizable surplus into a tipping-point economic collapse?

        Jeff, you’re just on the bandwagon. And unless you’re in the top 1% of earners, the Republican party couldn’t possibly care less about you.

        Furthermore, the Obama administration has left the door wide open for Republican participation. The problem is simply that the Republicans have no actual solutions, only negative rhetoric. Remember the debacle that was John Boehner’s ostentatious presentation of the “Republican budget alternative”, except that the document contained no budget?? And now Mr. Tangerine Man is going to be Speaker?? Get real.

        I’m not 100% thrilled with the Democrats’ inability to enact policy, but that doesn’t mean we should turn the entire government over to tea-party crazies who celebrate willful ignorance and unrelenting idiocy. Or give it back to the GOP, who only want to line their coffers with corporate kickbacks so they’ll have enough dough to pay their “personal services vendors” after the adductor massage but just before voting along a strict “family values” platform. WWJD, indeed…

        1. Well Robert, I was saying much the same thing during the Bush administration and when the Republicans had control of the Congress. I’m on the bandwagon for freedom and a Constitutional Republic as set out in our “contract” (The United States constitution with the Declaration of Independance as its foundation). And if you were actually listening to conservatives during those years you would have heard much the same thing from most of them as well.
          There was never any sizabel surplus. That was a “bookkeeping” mirage. Neither Republican nor Democrat politicians care much about anyone other than themselves.
          The Obama Administration has no interest in your rights or your freedom which has been blatantly obvious over the past two years. Where did all the trillions go that the democrats authorized in spending over the past four years? Your a fool if you think much of it didn’t go to line the pockets of their corporate interests and their union backers.
          Yeah, what would Jesus do? Show me any kind of evidence that he would stand with the democrats and their corrupt and immoral stands.

          1. What a steaming pile! There was indeed a surplus– even if it were just an accounting anomaly, at least Clinton was smart enough to foster it. Bush couldn’t cover his trillion dollar deficit with the living room rug, but he sure could blame-shift to the next guy.

            On what planet do you live? Here on Earth, Conservatives called anyone who criticized the President during a time of War a traitor subject to some rather nasty penalties. Then these same idiots started calling President Obama Adolph Hitler. During a time of war. And nobody notices. Horse dookie. (Joel, you owe me for being PG right now)

            You might want to take another look at the Biblical Jesus. Would the character in that story be more likely to align himself with a party dedicated to social justice or one openly obstructionist to helping the poor and destitute? Republicans have laid such a hard claim to Jesus that it’s disgusting. He’d be more likely to flip tables at the RNC than bother with the relatively mild ineffectiveness of the Democratic Party.

            Regardless, the issue here is that conservatives are in a massive crisis of cognizance and refuse to answer for it. It’s okay for Bush and Cheney to authorize extensive warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, but it’s Nazi/Fascist/Socialist/Muslim/Satanist/Communist for the President to ask Congress to give him a bill to sign that would provide healthcare to our people. What a joke.

            You people aren’t drinking the TEA, you’re drying, rolling and smoking it… Puff, puff GO BUY YOUR OWN!

          2. “There was indeed a surplus, even if it were just an accounting anomaly.” What kind of senseless statement is that?
            And the trillion dollar deficit is not Bush’s. It was the democrat congress who wrote the legislation and passed it. Read the Constitution boys!
            The democrats haven’t helped any poor. In fact, they have made more of them.
            I haven’t drunk any tea. But you two have clearly drank the kool-aid.

          3. Sorry, Jeff, but what you’re saying is found only from a small portion of the right-wing and not in actual history. The deficit, however, really isn’t Bush’s. It is more Reagan’s than anything.

          4. I’m sorry Joel. You’re just not a serious blogger. Reagan has been out of office for over 20 years and dead for 6 1/2. How in heaven’s name is it his deficit?
            That’s the problem with you wacko leftists. You can never take responsibility for anything you cause . . . in your own lives or in others.

  3. Jeff–

    You obviously have no understanding of long-term economic effects of public policy. You and all your TEAbagging pals are such government amateurs, but that should be expected considering that “education” and general intelligence is thought of as “elitist” and therefore undesirable.

    The GOP and its base showed their collective stupidity when they expected President Obama to wave his magic wand and “fix” the economy and “create” jobs. You’ve just bought into the idiocy.

    Please, host a town hall. But instead of painting Hitler mustaches on Presidential portraits and shouting racial epithets until you’re hoarse, have an economist teach a course. You’ll save money on Sharpies and *maybe* learn a thing or two.

    1. Robert, your an ignorant idiot. You have no idea who I am, what education I have, nor my relationship with Tea Party people. Your statements are nothing but the blabber of a person who knows nothing and therefore can only regurgitate what has been brainwashed into his head

  4. I say throw them all (Democrats AND Republicans) out and start afresh. Act on the right and duty given us by the Declaration of Independence. This comment is sure to open a can, lol.

  5. In this democracy, THE PEOPLE are the government — refer to the Gettysburg Address, which itself took that theory from an assortment of other founding documents.

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