It’s not that we don’t talk
It’s just no one really listens and honesty fades
Like a politician lost in the course
All smiles and no one remembers our names
– Anberlin, “Alexithymia”
It’s 1:17AM EST and I’m sitting here listening to an obscure indie band while I type these words, questions swirling in my mind after the chaos of today. We live in a mad, mad world. A lunatic shooting people at a concert from a hotel window has left the world asking some really, really tough questions. Here I am, sitting alone, asking some of my own.
What matters in this life? I know all the easy-speak-garble-feel-good-fluff we concoct, but I don’t just want what’s easy, I want what’s real. What really matters? What’s worth dying for? Who is worth dying for?
Today, I called an author who has inspired me, doubting that he would actually pick up the phone. To my surprise, he answered! Yes children, people do still answer the phone! We talked, he gave me some sound advice to a question I had, and we said goodbye. Maybe I’ll never speak with him again, but for a moment I was thinking, “I am not invisible.” Not only did he listen, but he even offered words of wisdom.
What I cannot wrap my mind around is how much we talk and how loud we scream, yet no one really listens above the noise of pride, selfishness, greed, and indifference. We’re all smiles for the crowds, yet desperately longing to be seen and heard.
Each day, I see people who are hurting, whether on social media or in public. Has anyone listened to them? Do they feel seen and heard? Will they fall asleep that night knowing that they are loved? We live in a world with endless information and forums for communication, yet we feel desperately alone. How many more teenagers will cry out through a tweet about their heartache and loneliness, while their “friends” and family are nowhere to be found? What will it take for us to open the door for others to feel safe to be themselves and to share their scars?
I’m so over it. I’m over people passing one another with indifference. I’m over a culture that uses people, then spits them out when they’ve been drained. I’m over a world where we can’t speak about what’s real and what’s true without the fear that we’ll be rejected and ostracized.
When youth can tell their parents about their grades and athletic achievements, but they don’t feel safe to talk with them about their heartache and pain, we’re not really listening. When someone is in a self-destructive pattern such as alcoholism or addiction, yet no one wants to speak with them for fear of rejection, we are no longer living in love, but rather a life of selfishness. We’re not listening to their cry for help; we’re just there for a temporary distraction from our own loneliness.
What if we started looking for opportunities to listen and to let another person know that they are not invisible? What would that look like? What if we stopped caring so much about our selfish desires and rather focused on the voices all around us? Sure, we may hear cries for help and see tears all around, which isn’t “fun”. Yet, it’s real and our selfish desires are empty. Loving someone, listening to someone, and letting them know that they’re not invisible brings real joy to the heart, not empty things.
What if we started living like rebels in a world gone mad? What if love and compassion were our anthem and our battle cry?