Heroism: How to listen

Luke Cage and the New Avengers

Just like Luke Cage says above, when he was recruited by Captain America to join the New Avengers, he told the man “there’s new things I’m gonna want a group like this to try. I’m gonna want to be heard.” And in the panels above you see a result. Cage hoped the Avengers would serve as a deterrent to drug dealers in urban neighborhoods, through their presence alone. If WE had super-heroes, we’d do the same thing.

My friends should never have to tell me they want me to listen to them. Most of the time, when they talk to me, it’s not because they love the sound of their own voices. It’s because there’s some way that between us, we can make things better for both of us. Maybe for MANY others besides. 🙂

But you know what? I have to be in a certain frame of mind to make that happen. Here’s what that frame of mind looks like:

  • My friend is important. In some ways, at the given moment, the most important influence in my life. That means I commit to listen when that friend talks, even if the phone rings, or the tea kettle whistles, or my favorite show is on TV.
  • My friend knows not to just rattle on for unimportant stuff. That means we’ve decided in advance what’s important and what is just, you know, shootin’ the sh*t. We’ve made an agreement that if I’m committed to listen, I’ll hear what I most need to.
  • We make sure we understand each other. That means I feed back what I’ve heard and get some confirmation, and I don’t assume anything about what I’ve been told. Later on we’re gonna be glad we did that.
  • We don’t use the other person’s voice as a signal to apply our brains to anything else. That means I’m not rehearsing my next answer.
  • We commit to respect each other. That means whatever differences we have, we ignore for the sake of what’s really important.

Then, together we’ll come to your neighborhood. And we’ll just stand there. Let’s see what happens.

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~ by Ron Graham on November 3, 2010.

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