Thursday, July 28, 2016

A "listening tour"

In my off-hours I’m a jazz musician, and any jazz musician will tell you that if you want to sound good you need to listen to the other players around you.

That metaphor also goes for a nation, especially now that we’re so divided politically, more so at any time that I recall in my lifetime. And I think a lot of that is connected to the “siloing” of people according to race, class, culture, ideology or whatever. We don’t live in the same neighborhoods, work together, eat together, worship together — we don’t have those connections.

I know what it’s like to lose friends over politics and it does hurt; in some cases (but not in mine, fortunately) even families have been fractured. And do you know what it would take to change that?

Listening. It’s really that simple. And in doing so, not thinking that you have all the answers.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been excoriated, and rightly so I believe, for his crassness, bombast and constant badgering of those he doesn’t agree with. Why would anyone support him? Because he’s brought up issues of economic hardship in the “Rust Belt” brought on at least in part by globalization. Had people listened to his supporters then he might not be where he is today.

The group “Black Lives Matter” has been denounced as racist and anti-police, among other things. But their critics don’t understand that many, if not most, African-Americans have felt abused by police. Lately, BLM activists have held meetings and even picnics with police officers and got together in a number of cities, including Dallas, where the five cops were shot to death; and here in Pittsburgh.

That may have gone a long way toward defusing tensions. Let’s keep that going.

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