Proverbs 12:15 instructs us: "Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listens to others."
How many times have you and me been so anxious to say something to someone that we don't hear a word that they are saying to us. I've been guilty of that many times. Or, how many times in a conversation do we nod our head to our friend in agreement but yet we really haven't been listening at all?
Proverbs is instructing us here that if we are wise, we will listen. We need to practice listening. That means we need to take an interest in what others are saying if we are to communicate effectively with each other.
There is a powerful scene in my upcoming book, "Tears in a bottle: Seeing through their eyes," in which Esther finds herself in the midst of a heated demonstration near the world trade center memorial in New York City. Hundreds of people carrying signs and shouting thru megaphones are engaging with Muslims, denouncing the recent plan to build a mosque near the site of where the world trade center once stood. After confronting the hatred and discrimination from the protesters, Esther fights her way past the crowd and finds herself all alone near the memorial. Esther spots a woman standing by herself with her head bowed to her chest and crying. You have to picture this like a movie. The chaotic sounds of the protesters fade in the background and all you see is Esther and this woman together by themselves. This woman's name is Amanda. Amanda is a Christian. She stands all alone mourning the death of her husband who was trapped on the 102nd floor of the WTC on September 11 and killed. Here at the site where the world changed forever on September 11, is a Muslim and a Christian, all alone by themselves and standing together.When Amanda looks up she sees Esther. She recognizes she is a Muslim because she is wearing a hijab.Amanda gives Esther a look of hatred and bitterness. "How dare you come here? Your people murdered my husband!"
Esther allows Amanda to speak her mind and tell her story. After Amanda finishes venting her emotions, Esther explains the heartache in her life and how she lost two close friends in recent tragedies.Suddenly, the hatred and bitterness begins to melt away. Esther and Amanda have found a way to connect with each other. They have listened to each other with their hearts and shared the pain and grief in their lives. Then Esther, in tears, looks at Amanda with compassion and love in her eyes.
"Just a few minutes ago, Amanda, there was hatred and tension here. But now there is hope. Where we are both standing on a quiet Tuesday morning the world changed forever. Since then, there has been hatred, war and discrimination. But now today, Amanda, there is hope instead of hatred and peace instead of violence. The crowd over there is shouting and insulting each other. They won't stop and listen to each other. Yet here we are, a Muslim and a Christian, all alone together. We have shared our stories of pain together and listened to each other from the heart. There is hope and healing for us, Amanda. Right here on the site of one of the world's greatest tragedies, there is healing for the scars, because we stopped and took the time to listen to each other."