Listen. Read. Communicate.

“It is only when we go outside that comfort zone, and subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with, that we can make an informed judgment on any matter.” – Steve Anderson, Chief of Police, Nashville, TN

A friend of mine, knowing my generally liberal stance on most issues, tagged me in a Facebook post about Al Sharpton yesterday. The week prior, we had a discussion about Rev. Sharpton where we disagreed about his efficacy. As such, when he came across an article that articulated his point on the subject, he tagged me. This set off a lengthy and, initially, a heated conversation about police and community relations.

Right out of the gate, I was pissed, if I’m being honest. I felt attacked. How could he not see my point of view? How does what I feel not make sense to him? Chalk it up to the narrow minded conservative right, right?

At a certain point, though, we each relaxed. For whatever reason, we calmed down and stopped firing off texts without reading what the other had written. We asked questions. That bled over into today. We discussed more topics, and what we found is that we actually shared similar beliefs on a whole lot of issues. Sure, we didn’t agree 100% on everything, but it felt much easier to discuss things when there was no fear of offense.

My interest in politics and social issues may stem from getting older…I don’t know. I find myself getting more and more worked up over social and political issues than I ever have. What I’ve noticed (and it’s hardly a revelatory observation) is that we are beyond divided. We’re fractured, and this fractured division is largely due to poor communication. Mostly, it’s because of an inability or utter unwillingness to listen to an opposing viewpoint and seriously consider it. Instead, we seek out only the information that suits our agendas. We repeat blatant falsehoods that we read online and don’t bother to fact-check it. We shut off any possibilities of being exposed to differing opinions as if it is somehow going to infect us.

We are not helping to close the rift that we have created. In order to do this, we have to start listening. We have to start being open to the possibility that what we believe may or may not be actually true. We have to allow for the possibility that, though it may be painful, sometimes personal change is the only way to truly advance.

Let’s, like Chief Anderson says, “subject ourselves to the discomfort of considering thoughts we don’t agree with” for the possibility that middle ground can be reached and progress can be made.

Listen. Read. Communicate. It’s the best possible way to start to close an ever widening gap.

Have an awesome Tuesday,
-A.

P.S. – To read an outstanding example of this, read Chief Anderson’s response to a letter he received from a concerned citizen.

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I hope you enjoyed this post. Read more here. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. I hope your Tuesday is tremendous. Peace out.

The Scoop: Reading IS fun!

***Due to time constraints, I elected to wait to publish The Scoop this morning instead of last night. I apologize for the delay.***

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I was in school growing up, my teachers thought that I could possibly have some sort of learning disability. They believed that I struggled to read. So, they called a meeting with my parents and explained their beliefs to them. My parents defended me knowing that I, in fact, could read. They proved it by giving me a baseball article from Sports Illustrated, which I read quickly and summarized completely for everyone.

The problem was not that I was unable to read. The problem was that I only liked to read what interested me.

This continued throughout school. I read enough to get by, but was never super interested in reading my textbooks. I would use Spark Notes or some other book summarization service offered online in order to make it through book report books. I always felt like I had better things to do than read things that did not interest me, or read at all for that matter.

What I realized was that while I made good grades in school, I struggled to retain and actually learn the information that was presented. I knew it at one time because I studied it (or memorized it) for a test. But, I never really read it to remember it.

Recently, I have come to realize that my education is up to me. And that education is tied to a plethora of books that are just waiting to be explored. My ideas on reading then centered around books or assigned pages being an obligation or requirement. Now, I shifted that focus to discover what I can learn from anything I read.

I have recently even caught up with a few of the classics that I passed over along the way in school. I read Catcher In The Rye and really did enjoy it, much to the delight of Lauren, my girlfriend. (It is one of her all-time favorites.) I read Of Mice and Men, which made her equally proud that I now understood what she meant when she said someone was pulling a Lenny.

I now have a whole host of books that are in my queue to read. You will probably see on the right side of our blog that Aaron and I have books we are currently reading. Those have been the same for a while, but likely because we just have not updated that portion of the blog. I would welcome your recommendations on books that I should read. I have a list I am working my way through, but I am always open to suggestions on new and interesting reads. So please share your book ideas with me, and once I make it through the book, I will let you know what I thought.

I know I have mentioned it before, but reading is what opened me up to the ideas regarding optimism and positivity. Lauren’s dad gave me a book over a year and a half ago as a gift which re-introduced me to ideas that have practically changed my life. The book was Lead…For God’Sake!, which Aaron and I speak about often. I could not more highly recommend that book to anyone.

I cannot stress to you the importance of reading. Read, read, and read some more. The amount of things that you can learn from books is endless. Learn to love it. I try to take time in my day to read for 20-30 minutes, at least. Go read books on things you love. Go read books on things you have been curious about. Go read books about things you know nothing about. Just read.

As I mentioned above, I have not always liked to read. I always chose the easier way out. Don’t fall into that trap. Reading is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to learn. A library card is free, and the opportunities for knowledge are unlimited.

Whether you read 5 pages a day or 5 chapters a day, read something. You will be amazed at what you will learn.

Bring your best today!

Love, Noah

P.S. I have a list of 25-30 books that represent what is called the “Coaches’ Challenge.” This is also an idea that I received from Joshua Medcalf about whom I spoke before. The idea is to read a book every two weeks for a year, and write a brief summary on each. If you are interested in that list of books, please contact me and I would be happy to share it with you. I have read about 7-8 on the list, and they are wonderful.

The Scoop: Education, Hatred and The Salvation Army. 

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

My approach with this post is two pronged. It will discuss hatred and education. I hope to show how the two coincide. 

Regarding education: Can we please all agree to stop believing everything we see on Facebook? I saw an article today about The Salvation Army and its stance on the LGBTQ community. This article came equipped with a picture of two women raising money for the Salvation Army in front of a sign reading “No Gays Allowed.” It also listed quotes from a member of the Salvation Army advising that gay people should die.

Sigh. Okay, does this sound insane to you? When you read this, don’t you just think, “hey, this sounds ridiculous. There’s no way that a multinational organization, even if they believed it to be true, would put itself out there as a hate group.” That’s what I thought. So, I did more or less two google searches which equaled about 3 minutes and 47 seconds of “research” about this. The truth about this article is that (gasp!) it’s not entirely true. First, the picture of the women that accompanies the article: photoshopped. Second, the Salvation Army’s belief that homosexuals should die: not really true. The remarks made by a Salvation Army official did happen, but they were quickly condemned by the organization. Allegedly, one goofball from the organization misunderstood the doctrine of the group and fired off at the mouth. 

(Note: Before I go further, I am aware that the Salvation Army has drawn the ire of the LGBTQ community in the past for unrelated issues. I’ve done my homework. I am also aware of the proverbial “where there’s smoke there’s fire” belief. I’m not championing the Salvation Army. If their stances on homosexuality are what I think they are, I wouldn’t put my support anywhere near them. Don’t misconstrue it. I’m discussing one specific thing here. Let me make my point first.)

So, in a situation like this, when we continue to let crap like this to be spread and believed, what’s the end result? A lack of education and the spread of hatred. If people are taking the article at face value, (which, judging by the amount of shares I’ve seen on my Facebook wall, they are), we’re spreading a message of hate and lies. Also, if people aren’t taking the time to find out actual facts, we’re missing a prime opportunity for education. In essence, my point is that lack of education only serves to breed hate. 

Hate cannot be cured or offset by more hate. It just fuels it. Dr. King knew that. In his words: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I legitimately cannot understand why we lack the ability to accept people for exactly what they are. Why do we feel the need to ostracize or belittle those that fall outside what we have deemed the “norm”, “societally acceptable”, or (sigh, again) “moral”? Human beings are not and cannot be the moral judge of others. We’re not built for hatred. Well, at least we weren’t intended to be. We don’t have to be. 

Educate yourself. Learn to accept people. Let go of the hate. It’s pointless. 

We are better than this. 

Have an awesome Tuesday,
-A. 

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