“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”

– Ernest Hemingway

Three writers caught my attention this week about how we can rely on one-to-one bonding that will soften the hard edges we are experiencing in our nation these days, and perhaps our life.

We can start with Derick Black, who wrote an Opinion piece for the New York Times about his racial home life. His Godfather was David Duke, the KKK lover and his dad was a prominent racist in the south. Derick started out in politics in his young years with a white nationalist agenda and became a fairly noticeable leader in the south. He later wound up at a liberal college far away from his hometown. He eventually drew close to his roommates on political issues and turned a corner on his views. When asked how he will change the minds of rabid nationalists he claims “That kind of persuasion happens in person-to-person interactions and it requires a lot of honest listening on both sides.”

Derick Black doesn’t have to rely only upon long-time classmates to change his outlook, he can engage with total strangers in a brief time.

Secondly, Kerry Egan has published a book titled “On Living.” She got her degree at Harvard Divinity School and became a hospice chaplain. She reminds us that most chaplains and pastors often keep deathbed confessions secret. She found a goldmine of clandestine stories by those at the end of life that have kept their secrets to themselves. Many have urged her to tell those tales to others. A patient implored “Maybe someone else can get wise from them.”

The chaplain contends “There’s nothing stopping you from acting with the same urgency the dying feel.” That’s true, what if those waiting to their last breath were to have revealed those hidden desires throughout their life to a stranger on a park bench or seat partner on a plane? They deserve to bare their souls and those who listen to those stories may find them stimulating and hopeful for their own lives.

And thirdly, Ralph Keyes author of a book titled “The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear.” states that “A need for attention drives us. Recognition. Immortality. And why not? One of the most fundamental of human fears is that our existence will go unnoticed. We’d all like to have it recorded somewhere. What better way to achieve this goal than writing?” And what better way to attain our goals than listening carefully to total strangers who wish to have their sacred stories told?


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