Does it matter?

September 15, 2014

blog_judy_coolsMoonlighting. A blog by Judy Cools.

Today, readers and friends, I would like to give you some homework…. ask you to listen as you may have never listened before to your everyday conversations.  We all hear stories.  Stories at home, stories at work, stories at holiday gatherings, and stories from acquaintances as well as from close friends.  You may have a random moment when the flow of the story you’re hearing stops dead in your ears.  We’ve all experienced this.  It could be something you didn’t expect to hear, like a vulgar word or some other bit of slang that just doesn’t sound like it would come from the person who’s speaking.  The story goes on, around you and outside you — but inside you, your mind is trying to recover from that stumble.  You act like it never happened.

My stumble as a listener comes when someone says, “These black girls I work with….” or “This fat guy came up to me in the store….” or any one of countless other distinguishing details, when the detail doesn’t make a hoot of difference to the story they’re telling or the reason they’re telling it.

What habit, what mindset makes it necessary for someone to draw that line of separation?  The distinction only serves to say “I’m not that.”  The mention of it implies the speaker wants to be separate, like there is something wrong with that person who features in the story.

Of course, there are lots of stories where these small details are essential to the point of the story.  It could be that the person was treated differently because of what they weigh, their ethnicity, or the color of their skin.  It could be that in spite of being bullied for being overweight, the man ignored the harassment and was able to help a lost child in the store.  There are reasons why a person’s personal characteristics might be a legitimate part of the story, or the story might teach a lesson or inspire the reader in some way.

Many times, however, the story tells just as well without highlighting a person’s differences.  Does it matter to the story if the person was old or Hispanic, tattooed, well-dressed, or a person of color?  Why do people feel they must point out the distinction?

So listen, my friends, to the stories you hear, and ask yourself if these little comments that people make are really necessary or even appropriate.  If you’re strong (and brave) listen to your own stories and ask the same questions.  Folks, we need everyone’s efforts to bring people together, to know one another, to respect one another, to work together and live together in harmony.  Not reasons to draw lines, build walls, and separate ourselves.  Please listen well to what you hear.  Listen like you never have before.

Kudos, complaints, or conversation?

© 2014, J. L. Cools


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