The 2012 election is approaching, and especially if you live in a “swing state” like Iowa, you’re facing a steady dose of campaign ads – on television, internet, yard signs, radio. I even hear that candidates have purchased ad placements in video games.
Every politician is doing everything he/she can to shout down the competition, trying to proclaim a message as loudly as possible. The campaign season has become about louder, more frequent, more visible, more in-your-face, and it’s not pleasant. I mean, when we hear for two weeks about which presidential candidate is going to come out more aggressive in a debate, we have a culture problem. Certainly our political system is rife with corruption, greed, power-hunger, and worse (though that statement doesn’t preclude the honest and honorable candidates). However, we cannot let ourselves off easy by simply blaming the political system.
We are, in a sense, getting what we deserve as a society, because what we all loathe during the election season are symptoms, not the disease. There is a root to this unhealthiness, a virus that’s taking a slow but destructive toll. The disease from which we suffer is an unwillingness to listen.
We don’t often slow down and listen to anything but the loudest, most present voices in our world. Our lives have become so fast-paced, so isolated, and so driven that we lack receptivity to any voice that doesn’t easily fit in our compartmentalized and fundamental ways of thinking. We could break this unwillingness to listen down even further into underlying causes like greed, self-centeredness, fear, and more, but focusing on a failure to listen gives us a tangible starting point.
We have a hard time in relationships because we fail to listen not only to another person’s hurts, but also their values, their view of a problem, and how they want to go about solving it. We tend to see our own perspective as all-important and fill in the blanks for the other person’s view.
Politicians know most people won’t listen for very long, so they choose their battles carefully. The issues currently discussed are not necessarily the most important ones, only the things that political strategists are convinced will lure those last few undecided voters. We don’t have the patience to listen to all the important issues.
How often do we take the time to listen to a differing viewpoint – I mean really listen and consider it, not just to sharpen our rebuttal? When was the last time you quieted your own soul to listen to an offended friend’s accusation?
As Christians, we have to ask ourselves, when was the last time we listened to someone other than our favorite preachers? When was the last time you subjected yourself to music or some other art form that didn’t immediately please you? When was the last time you earnestly studied the Bible to see if your doctrinal or political views hold water?
The most important question to be asked, however, is when was the last time you deliberately listened for the Holy Spirit? Whether through illuminating His Word, pointing your attention to the beauty of Creation, or prompting through an inner Voice, God wants to reach you in a way that won’t shout over the din of this world, but will speak things that bring life to your soul. Are you listening?