If I’ve learned anything during my years on this planet, it’s this: People just want to be heard. It’s a need more pressing than money or fame, though it has its hand in both. Money and fame grant the stature that accords recognition. But no matter what the means to an end, the end is the same: Here I am! Hear me!

Maybe I have a kind face; I don’t know, but people tend to talk to me: in checkout lines, parking lots, and public spaces. They tell me their stories. They don’t always need me to reciprocate, or even to validate…simply to listen.

I think many horrible tragedies might have been averted if only someone had listened to someone else. School shootings, for instance. Clearly, the shooters in these instances are trying to get people to listen to them, to understand something about them. Had someone encouraged them to bare their souls in advance, might things have gone differently? Maybe. Maybe not. No one can make someone else talk. And some people are in such pain (or delusion) that words no longer suffice. But you never know.

What I do know is that from online comment sections to newspaper opinion pages, people want their thoughts, feelings and experiences to be witnessed. Some just like the sound of their own voices (I’m looking at you, Internet trolls), others are angry about a particular issue. Some are crying out for understanding. And some (like the Westboro Baptist Church) still believe, toddler-like, that negative attention is better than no attention at all. But everybody wants to be heard.

We are quick to dismiss people whose opinions are not our own. Just write a blog post, and you’ll see what I mean. For every reasoned argument, there is an equal and opposite argument. Finding two people who agree on everything is less likely than finding a ruby in your Cracker Jacks box. But that doesn’t stop us from arguing, emoting, pontificating or just reaching out for a friendly ear.

I wish there were a place where anyone who wanted to be heard could say whatever he or she pleased and know that he (or she) had been well and truly heard. It might make the world a more peaceable place. Luckily, I know the very best listener there has ever been — God. You can ramble all you want, talk up a storm, and He will listen with patience and care. Only two problems present themselves: You can’t see God, and you can’t hear His response to you, at least not aurally.

This is where faith comes in. You just have to KNOW that He is listening. And you have to believe that if a response is needed, one will come. It may not be the response you want. Its arrival may not adhere to your desired timeframe. But it will come.

Unfortunately, this is also where the system breaks down. We are not a patient people. We want everything now. So, if you can’t wait, if you need an ear (albeit a fallible, human one) then find someone, anyone. There is, I promise, someone out there who will listen to you. Or just look for me in a parking lot or checkout line. I’ll be the one with the listening eyes. I promise I will do my best to hear you.

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