rn: developing a “listening ear”


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

I titled this posting, "deleloping a listening ear" because I think this is
one of the keys to web-weaving, probably even to "starting the revolution".
I remember once reading, (p. 46 of Joanna Rogers Macy's _Despair and Power
in the Nuclear Age_) about a US citizen, Frances Peavey, who sat on a bench
in a central square in cities like Tokyo, Delhi or Bangkok with a sign which
read: "American Willing to Listen". People lined up to come and speak with
her and sometimes Frances was still sitting there listening into the wee
hours of the morning! She never pretended to be some official or something;
she was simply a citizen who cared. This says a lot about the need for our
culture to hone its listening (and dialogue - thank you, Richard!- skills).

all the best, Jan

Date: Thu, 21 Oct 1999 03:17:22 -0400
To: •••@••.•••
From: Walter Miale <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: rn- re: web weaving

I sent the following to you the other day, but it was returned as
undeliverable. Here goes again....

>But I've found ways to talk to such people productively.  It begins by
>listening, and by asking them "why", and getting to the root of some of
>their concerns.  The next step is to look for values that are shared in
>common, and to develop areas where agreement is possible.  After developing
>some modicum of rapport, it is possible to discuss issues productively
>which would have been divisive earlier in the conversation.

Yes, thank you; I fully agree. This is exactly the right approach. We
better talk with people besides ourselves. If we do so, as you suggest, we
can OFTEN arrive at a meeting of minds. Typically our point of view has
been simply dismissed out of hand or ignored. To counteract this is not so
much a matter of arguing but of gaining a listening ear, which one usually
does by listening oneself, and by projecting intelligence and good will on
the other.

>Today I think the failure of the left and right to communicate is the
>single greatest obstacle preventing the development of a substantial
>movement for systemic change.  We are both suffering from the degradation
>of our physical and social environments, and it would serve our mutual
>interest to collaborate together in doing something about it.

Yes, there are a lot of people out there who drift into silliness like
armed militias for lack of opportunity and for not being taken seriously by
folks like us. But we have a lot in common and a lot to talk about.

Look at the culture that has given birth (I think) to the the Fully
Informed Jury movement. There's an example of an important democratic
movement which cuts across societal lines.

Walter Miale
Green World Center
Sutton, Quebec

Jan again: Now,if you are wondering who Walter Miale is, I just happen to
have an introduction that he gave me permission to use:

Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 21:23:15 -0400
To: •••@••.••• (Jan Slakov)
From: Walter Miale <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Thanks for your letter!

>Dear Jan,

Thanks for YOUR letter!

You write:

>PS I'm kind of curious: You have Quebec e-mail address but a Vermont postal
>adddress... I have had the impression that you are a professor?

I'm in Quebec province near the border, and have a US postal address for
magazine subscriptions and miscellany.

I'm a multimedia artist, currently developing a film on democracy featuring
Chomsky, Nader, Jane Goodall, Maude Barlow, Paul Watson, Peter Singer, et
al. Just completed a book of photos and words on Haiti that focuses on
families of victims of the macoutes, and traces the matrix of guilt. And
I'm opening a Study Retreat, where students, teachers, and others can do
some (activist oriented) studying and retreating. It's in a mountain
forest, near Sutton, Quebec. Adjunct faculty and guest teachers include
Chomsky, Goodall, Grace Paley, Frances Moore Lappe, and John Robbins. And I
do lecture/presentations--on Haiti; Visions of Primeval North America; and
a Democracy Film Workshop.



Walter Miale
Green World Center (an affiliated Center of Earth Island Institute)
Sutton, Quebec