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I Promise

Like you, I have a thousand opinions about what's happening in America right now. I'm not going to share any of them with you, and here's why...


Because we can't have a conversation about it.


In a blog post, I can only talk and you can only listen. There's been enough one-way communication going on about racism. It's like that fight you've had with your spouse for the last ten years. You're dug in to your side, he's dug in to his, and you keep firing the same word bullets across the same ground. No one wins, you just keep fighting.


My husband has been an army chaplain for almost eleven years. We've taught maybe fifty marriage retreats in that time. Our main focus is always on fostering good communication using the Speaker/Listener technique (developed by PREP, Prevention and Relationship Education Program). There are several rules so the conversation doesn't spiral into a fight, which I'm not going to share here because it would take too much time. The basic gist is you talk and I listen without forming an argument in my head about why you're wrong. In fact, I listen so I can repeat what I heard you say using my own words. I don't have to agree with you, just make sure I heard you correctly. As the speaker, your role is to clarify any miscommunication between what you said and what I heard. We keep going until you're satisfied that I understand you. Then we switch roles.


It's not--I repeat, NOT--important for us to agree yet. Only that we hear each other.


Up to now, I haven't been a good listener. I've heard only part of the Black Lives Matter message before tuning out so I could prepare my argument. I'm sorry for that. I promise to listen from now on. I can't promise I'll agree, but I can promise to listen.

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