It took four tries before I finally got through to the customer service representative for my telephone and internet service. I went through this long list of options before finally getting to the right place. Once the automated system finally got me where I thought I was supposed to be, the phone would ring. Four times. Then I would be disconnected.
Finally, I reached some nice young man that was not from around here. It is amazing that you can talk to someone halfway around the world, but cannot keep your local service connected for five minutes?
He tried to convince me that my internet connection was dropping because I had nine internet devices connected. I told him that was not an issue before the storm. Of course, he had no idea what Hurricane Michael was or did to our community.
The young man kept telling me running nine devices on our internet was the reason that we were being cut off. I told him that it was only my wife and me at home. We were not watching three televisions, talking on two cell phones, playing on two iPads and printing on our wireless printer all at the same time.
In fact, he told me my cell phone was connected to my home’s wireless even as we were speaking, which I thought was odd since I was talking to him while on my cell sitting in my office a mile away. It became obvious that he just was not listening to me.
That’s not that unusual these days. Listen to our politicians rant and rave these days in Washington. Not a whole lot of listening going on there.
What about the news? I regularly try to listen to Fox, CNN or MSNBC in some combination to hear how they report on a singular event. You would often think they were reporting on different stories.
It used to be that you went to the coffee shop to talk to your buddies and listen to the latest gossip about town. Now you will likely find a crowd of people texting on their phones when you go for that morning cup. Not much listening going on there anymore, either.
The minister in the church I was attending last week talked about listening, or the lack thereof these days. He suggested that to know how someone is really doing in their life, whether friend, associate or family, you must listen to them. Ask them how they are really doing and then wait for their honest reply.
In the Bible, James said, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”
This is good advice to our leaders and frankly, to ourselves. As I watched the recent congressional hearings, it became so obvious that they are not listening. They are posturing for the cameras and preening for their base. Pick a party, it doesn’t matter. Slow to anger? Slow to speak? Congress should post the verse found in James 1:19 above every committee room in the Capitol.
To paraphrase the minister, how does a leader know the best decision if he doesn’t understand his counterpart’s point of view? How does he know that point of view if they don’t talk and more importantly, if they don’t listen to each other?
This country is in bad need of less talk, more listening, and a whole lot less anger. I can do without my internet for a few days and forgive a young customer service representative for not listening to me. My expectations are higher for the elected officials that hold the future of our country in their hands.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org