Listen Up! It Will Change Your Life

February 19, 2019, 1:22 am

Lately, I’ve been digging a lot into the relevance of stories. I have interest because I desire that my story will have meaning, and that the stories of those I’ve harmed will also have meaning, no matter how ugly certain parts of our stories may be. My interest in stories also derives from wanting to understand other people through listening to the stories of their lives. My compassion for others, especially others whom I find difficult to get along with, increases when I listen to their stories. When we understand that people are who they are today because of their past, that the decisions they have made were not made in a vacuum, we can’t help but respond with compassion.

But sometimes compassion is the exact opposite of what we want to feel towards someone. Perhaps we know enough of their story to be disgusted with them, or even hate them, or we’ve simply heard enough to know we don’t want to hear any more. We’d rather hold onto our self-righteous anger at the harm they’ve done, the tragedies they’ve caused, or even the lack of responsibility they’ve taken (or are still refusing to take) in their lives. It’s easier when we can let our emotions go where they feel the most comfortable. 

Anger and apathy are two emotions that are easy. Anger is usually an active response to an injustice we experience or an injustice we see someone else experience. Sometimes anger is a good motivator. It can help us to intervene when an injustice occurs, or it can empower us to be an agent of change so the injustice doesn’t happen again. Yes, anger can be good, but it can also be harmful. It can cause us to become the harmer rather than seeking to heal a harm. Apathy, on the other hand, is almost always dangerous. Apathy gives us permission to check out, to ignore an injustice, or to relieve ourselves of any compulsion to be the change we wish to see in the world. Yet, apathy is often the easiest route to take because it’s the safest. 

Apathy protects us from the ugly parts of people’s stories. It keeps us safe from the danger. It keeps us from feeling the tension of compassion and anger at the same time. Because, let’s be honest, some stories *should* make us angry, but healing for both harmer’s and the harmed requires compassion. Sometimes that compassion means listening to painful stories. It means helping the story teller make sense of an otherwise senseless story, for when we enter with compassion into another’s story we might just help them write a meaningful future. 

Yes, some stories will tear at your heart. They’ll keep you awake at night, or bring tears to your eyes at the most inappropriate times. Some stories will make you feel powerless because the tragedies have already been written. Some stories will make you feel hopeless because the harm was so great. But if you dare to enter these stories, if you dare to open your heart to the stories that have shaped people–harmer or the harmed–you can’t help but respond with compassion. And if you truly listen to one’s story and respond with compassion, you might just write a paragraph, a sentence, or even a simple word that could change how the story ends. But beware compassionate reader–it’ll change your story too.

Go to Source
Author: Bryan Noonan
The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry.

The opinions expressed within posts and comments are solely those of each author, and are not necessarily those of Women Against Registry.