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Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad - "Hear, O Israel: the LORD is our God, the LORD is One." ~ Deuteronomy 6

A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. ~ Paul Simon

Last week I had jury duty and was called to a court room in a selection pool. The judge first went row by row and asked if anyone had physical limitations that would prevent them from serving. One man raised his hand and announced, "I have a selective hearing problem."

After an awkward pause the the judge asked, "Selective?"

The man replied, "That's what I've been told."

Still not sure if the man was serious but suspecting he was being played as the setup, the judge asked, "And who told you this?"

"Mostly my wife." said the man to much laughter in the room, and from the judge.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how words and what we say make a difference.

The same can be said about hearing. What we hear makes a difference. And, the truth is, we all have selective hearing problems. We have a tendency to hear what we've come accustomed to and expect to hear. Unfortunately our current propensity to live in echo chambers and silos of social media, cable news, and sectarian religion exacerbates the common human tendency toward tribalism.

Maybe our modern challenge is not so modern after all. The "Shema" quoted above is at the center of both morning and evening prayers of the Jewish People. Perhaps the need to hear and listen has always been a challenge for us, but even more so in such a noisy world.

Our challenge to listen is at least two-fold.

First - listen to yourself. Turn off the social media and cable news. Spend some time in silence and reflection on what you, not somebody else, think and feel.

Second - change the channel. Listen to another voice. Put yourself in another person's perspective. Seek common ground.


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