Qualified to Listen

I could give a damn about your qualifications!  Those are not my qualifications, because mainly I only have one.  Can you listen? If you can’t, then off with your head. Because what good is it?  If your ears don’t work, then neither does your brain, at least not optimally. Qualifications often represent barriers more so than they protect us.  We refuse to listen to those that are “unqualified” to have an opinion. Think politics, the environment, women’s rights.  Think education.  Credentials are overshadowing common sense.  If an expert tells you that waterboarding your kids is the best way to instill obedience, I hope you call bullshit? I am no licensed childcare professional, but I have children of my own, and I know a thing or two, or three.  I don’t need a license. When I need to have the electricity fixed in my home, I am going to call an electrician. If my house is burning down, and a random person is standing there with a bucket of water, and they have ideas?  I am all ears.

Where should we begin, education?  This is low hanging fruit, honestly.  Educate the youth for a better tomorrow.  That sounds wonderful in a commercial, really it does.  That statement has strummed all of our heartstrings at one time or another.  But is that what we actually do? Are we educating the youth for a better tomorrow?  There are about a million teachers our there who would be far better suited for the job than Betsy Devos.  Truth be told I have seen janitors with more emotional intelligence than Betsy. Her credentials though, her connections, her “contributions.”  This is what qualifications have become. I am not advocating that we throw out our entire system of educational checks and balances, but we can do better.  We should do better.

Once upon a time long ago, great opinions were but a whisper.  With modern technology, a great idea should roar. If they do not, often it is because they have been muzzled.  I know that there are great ideas out there about how to transform our educational system into something that works.  Why can’t we hear them? The time for incremental change has passed. We need drastic restructuring, generational growth, and we need it in half a generation.  It’s time to call in the rouge.

The rouge.  It’s the character that we all love.  When the ordinary makes the extraordinary possible. J.K. Rowling is an example. Maybe not necessarily the best, but its what I got right now, ok.  Did you know that Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before her Harry Potter book was accepted?  You can just hear the publishers now saying, ”so what other books have you published?” Again, don’t get me wrong.  This is a logical question, and if you are a publisher it is an important question. I am humbly trying to make the point that it is these are the types of biases that cause us to overlook “masterpieces.”  Musical masterpieces, art, business, theology, philosophy, and most importantly ideas. Ideas that have been masterfully crafted by watching, and, not necessarily doing.

I would venture to say that Rowling had read her fair share of books before undertaking her masterpiece as I called it.  Not to me, but to some, and that’s what matters. Those things that we the gatekeepers allow into the world must be filled with the same multiplicity that we are.  When all of our ideas and aspirations become homogenous, they represent a system, and not us. We are not a system, some program. Systems that govern us need to be as various as we are, and so should the people and ideas that help build those systems.  How are we ever supposed to build anything that works in harmony with all of us, if its designed by that guy?

Have you ever attended a town hall meeting?  I have, and everything is cool until someone gets hot. Like a wildfire, that spark will light up a room with rage, and biases.  If you are not dealing with a civilized bunch, insults and maybe chairs will be flying in no time.  Thank god for quasi-democracies, because it means that we don’t have to duck chairs or rage on anyone for their ignorance.  We get to participate in a passive-aggressive manner(pre-2016 at least), especially with family, and bottle our anger for the first person that cuts us off on in traffic.  Get to the point. Town hall meetings represent a chance for people to be heard. I mean really understood. When that room falls silent, and you speak, people are listening. If you say something that is too far left, that audience, your fellow citizens, they are going to let you know.  And when you say something that is on target, they are going to let you know, in real-time.

We have the ability to give people a voice.  Most of us want to rewind or fast forward to a sweeter time.  We will never return to the days of town meetings, not for most.  But exclusivity of ideas, and of societal input is naive, ignorant, and dangerous.  Even a spectator has value. The spectator sees something that the actor does not. Do you want someone to tell you about yourself?  Hell no, you don’t want to hear that. It is far easier to discount their opinion. That task is easy when it is only the opinion of one.  When the opinion of one become the opinion of many, that is how we turn a whisper into a roar.

I hear profound whispers.  I see and hear ideas that could change the world, truly alter the trajectory of our future.  Pointing us north again. Tear down the wall. The wall that stands between us and great ideas.  Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, young and old, rich and poor. Value is what should be given to those ideas that are great.  Great ideas don’t come from “great” people. Great ideas come from great insight, and I call B.S. if you tell me you have a degree in that.  

I wrote this post to highlight our need to supercharge conversations about change.  We need to change. Not just the always talked about political change, but a change in so many areas.  Is it not our duty to live up to our human potential? Are we? Are we even doing what is minimal to prepare for our future, economically, socially, and environmentally?  I don’t believe that we are. We can quickly transform our education system, and our economic focus on ways that will weaponize our future. I say weaponize because the future is turbulent and competitive.  We are on a journey to somewhere, and the route is most certainly not without obstacle. Veracity, faith, perseverance, and foresight should be our focus. How can we make great ideas heard? How do we use those ideas, and expedite change?

A. Carroll  

“Procrastination is the foundation of all disasters.”

Pandora Poikilos


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