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Hard to believe it's the middle of summer already--a long roller-coaster of a summer. Yes, it's been hot and sticky (name me a summer that isn't). But this summer has been trickier to negotiate than most.

Coming out of more than a year-and-a-half of pandemic and isolation, the world has never seemed more fraught, both with possibilities and with tensions. It's not just that COVID is not truly on the run--no, it's digging in its heals and calling on its minions to create new variants, so far up to the Delta, its meanest version so far. And the economy is not back to normal, yet inflation is edging all prices skyward. No, the scariest part just now is facing each other in the great outdoors again. We had been safe in our personal cocoons and yet now we need to resume human interaction. It should be a time of great creativity and human connection in person (even if not truly touching). But much has occurred during our sleepless hibernation that has called who we are into question--as individuals, as citizens, as human animals on the planet. And this has bred mistrust, distrust, and a very raw wariness.

People are not listening to other people, or are too busy reading into things to hear what is actually being said. Wounds are being opened further instead of being allowed to heal. Suspicions abound and as we miscommunicate, these doubts are only deepened, making intelligent discourse even harder. We are so afraid of our boundaries not being respected that we shut down our openness in anticipation. This is not merely about political parties--it's about core questions of race, health, and basic rights. In our attempts to be "politically correct," we are trampling on the very anthills while we claim to want what's best for the ants.

We must take a step back. In order to learn from what has happened to us, we must be open to a new version of the world. This does not require us to forget the past, but if we are not open to what good things can be--if we are not creative and receptive and responsive to olive branches that are being put out there right before our eyes--then we will never truly reap the lessons learned from our recent global ordeals and, worse yet, we will miss opportunities to save ourselves from the next cataclysm.

We must listen to our friends and neighbors, even when we may not necessarily agree with what they are saying. Discourse is good--but we must not read negative intent into what they are saying to us. Synthesis is what we need moving forward and being open to each other's true intent is of paramount importance to successfully build our future.

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Do We Even KNOW how to listen?

One should always believe in what one espouses. Of course. Unlike certain recent leaders (and Presidents), to espouse any belief (however heinous) and not believe just to provoke attention and false


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