Editorial: Let's listen in 2020

Let’s be honest, 2019 is a year in American – and Brandon, S.D. history – that a lot of us want to forget.
On both sides of the national political spectrum, candidates and supporters alike seemed to shout their opinions and criticisms from the highest mountain tops. 
Locally, city and community leaders endured vicious, personal attacks thrown at them by anonymous source(s). And no matter how hard city staff, the mayor, council members and others tried to rectify the issue at hand, the backlash continued.
The problem was – both Washington, D.C. and Brandon, S.D. – with so many people’s shouts echoing through the air, many of us felt the need to add our own shout rather than taking the time to listen. So, here’s a New Year’s resolution for all of us in 2020: let’s listen.
Many of us hear what other people have to say, but we don’t listen. We simply hear out their statement so that we can form our response — telling them how we happily agree with them or how utterly wrong they are. But hearing what someone says just so we can respond isn’t listening. To listen we must hear what they have to say and seek to understand why they are saying it.
Does listening mean we don’t respond? Of course not. It’s hard not to respond to someone who is saying hateful or ignorant things. We aren’t asking you to bite your tongue. We’re asking you to understand the other side of the issue so that you can respond in a way that will actually advance the conversation, rather than turning it into a battle that will never be won.
We’ve seen our fair share of bickering, name calling and finger pointing in 2019 – much of it being shared via social media channels. We don’t know about all of you, but we’re tired of it. If there was ever a time when we as a country – and a community – need to focus on listening, it’s now. Saying hateful things to each other because of differing beliefs or values or opinions isn’t getting us anywhere. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
It’s entirely possible to hate someone’s beliefs, but not hate the person who holds those beliefs. To listen is to understand and to understand is to know that you might have differing views, but we can still respect one another. If all of us can do that in 2020, it might be a year where we can all be proud to be Americans – and Brandon, South Dakotans.


The Brandon Valley Journal


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