The Listener

He has opinions. He has beliefs. He is like anyone else in that he feels strongly about current events in the world and events in history. But he won’t show it in long, passionate, arrogant posts. His attitude is not, “If you don’t agree with me, you’re stupid.” In this world of competing voices all demanding to be heard, he listens.

His social media accounts are few. You won’t find him shouting from every platform. But his limited presence is invaluable. In general, he offers very little commentary on the articles he posts. Often it’s just a simple phrase like: “This is interesting.” You are left to wonder if he agrees or disagrees, but that isn’t really the point. What he’s really asking you to consider is, do you agree?

The comments thread is a safe space. His many friends may not—and often do not—agree with each other, but there is no abuse, no belittling. Respect, courtesy, and consideration—they all exist there, as though the very fact that he is the moderator changes how people interact with each other. And all the time he is listening, valuing your opinion—even when he disagrees. But be prepared to cite your source.

Does he make assumptions? No. He asks questions. He wants to know what you think and why you think it. He wants to understand your point of view, to see what the subject looks like from your perspective. And he will appreciate your willingness to share.

It’s a rare talent in today’s world: the ability to respect differing views, the openness to consider differing ideas, the willingness to listen. He sets an unwritten high standard, but it’s one that we all can follow, if we just make the effort. Its very existence invites others to do the same.

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