An Open Letter to Those Who Will Not Hear

Something for Sunday: 

 “None so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see.” – Matthew Henry

For as long as I can remember during my 74 years of living, I have been confronted with the question: “Are you listening?”  My parents began using it as an instructional tool which usually included the additional ‘to me.  Then during my years in public education, concerned and caring teachers would use it to punctuate instruction.  Throughout my ministry, congregants used it to be sure that they had my unconditional attention. Are you listening?

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To listen is defined as to give one’s attention to a sound or to make an effort to hear something.  Everyone seems to agree that listening is a hallmark of good communication.  But, I would suggest that listening may lose its effectiveness if there is no hearing/understanding. I postulate that to really hear is to understand what is intended by the speaker and that one has only listened when he has heard and understood.

The current way that we are communicating causes one to think that while there is a lot of talking going on, with alleged listening, there is not much hearing.  Who is hearing?  I base this observation on the kind of responses or lack of responses that are now  being made.

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Violent crime is so common that we are almost immune to it.  No longer are we arrested by killing. “Oh well, another one bites the dust.”  With all the play on second amendment rights, we no longer question how perpetrators get their firepower.  The NRA is so positioned that no new gun laws which question the sell of weapons are taken seriously. We listen to the complaints of those victimized by gun violence but do we really hear?

Some of our citizens have known the pain of the police shots fired as well as retaliatory ambush against law enforcement agents.  The solution is most often “let’s get together and talk about it.”  Do we just come together and  talk but do we hear?  We. have been talking since the civil rights movement and for a minute there was some movement which implies that not only had there been some listening but there had been some hearing.  But then, another unexplainable killing or retaliation and the movement stops.  Everyone has a right to live and our children should have the right to grow up being children without living with the undue stress of public safety.

Then the mandate to a presidential candidate who gets elected on a we are listening to you platform begs the question, did he really hear?  Maybe he was just listening.

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So, we are confronted on a daily with issues that affect our living.  Global warming, climate change, the threat of war, cyber crime, interpersonal relationships, immigration, sanctuary cities, and religious diversity to name a few of them. Our world is complex.  Issues are almost overwhelming.  Listening is fundamental but more important than listening is hearing/understanding.  We are admonished in the Bible: … whatever else you get, get understanding. Prov. 4:7 (CNB)  Are you hearing?

Rev. Gerald Adams is the retired pastor of Greater True Friendship Baptist Los Angeles. Rev. Adams resides in Dallas, Texas
Rev. Gerald Adams, Reel Urban News Religious and Cultural Editor, is the retired pastor of Greater True Friendship Baptist, Los Angeles. Rev. Adams resides in Dallas, Texas.

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