to the ones who feel like they’re constantly defending

please won’t you stop for a second

and help me on this

shine some clarity on the situation

because i really don’t understand

what it is about this that makes you not want to listen

please help me recognise

what it is that keeps you from engaging in this conversation

as if taking some time to lend me your ears

will result in a group of us encircling you

and viciously stabbing you repeatedly in the back?

 

et

to, the ones who feel so defensive

if you just take the time to hear and really hear

the story of the other

the one who sits in front of your screen with fresh scars held upwards

reaching out to you

wanting to simply share silently the screams of their silenced stance

what harm could it possibly cause you

to have an empathetic escape

from all of the assumptions,

assertions

aggravations

that you bring to the table and simply give them a chance to speak

not believing for a second that you have to agree with any or all of what you hear

but believing for a second that hearing another side to your well-tuned story might in fact

give you pause to consider that maybe the one that you know to be true

might not be all the true that could be available to you?

 

to the ones who are so dismissive

insistently inciting

consistently fighting

unfriending,

crescendoing statements into argumentative tirades

question threads into metaphorical verbal poo-flinging stockades

to you who move things so quickly from 0 to 100

without even bothering to shift gear

who are already halfway through compiling your response

before the statement you’re ‘replying to’ has even made it

out of the fingers of the person on the other side

the other person on the other other side

just stop!

you are not helping here

 

shooting down conversations

misdirectional missives

name-calling

blame-calling

article-citing

video-linking

screen-blinking

at the pace at which words are being shot out over the airwaves

like shells dropped from a bomber over the headquarters of the enemy

i hope that you don’t hit a school

 

do you see the futility of it all?

the engagement, estrangement

back and forthness

tik tik tik on the computer keyboard

like some kind of addictive drug

coarsing through your veins

when what is needed

perhaps what just might be good for us all right here

is to be the one who simply stops

 

just stops…

stop.

 

that’s it.

now breathe for a second…

deep in and deep out

listen to the sound of the air

filling up and evacuating your lungs

 

focus on that for a while

and just listen

really listen

hear words

try to understand meaning

put yourself on the other side of the screen

what do you hear now?

what do you mean?

what emotions are bursting through your skin

wanting to splat themselves against the screen?

what history has caused you to be in this exact place?

what opportunity might have been denied to you because of your race?

what can i possibly understand about the person whose life i have taken no time to create silence for?

 

is this a lesson in futility?

as i can surely never know

or truly understand

or ever hope to feel

 

but. i. can. listen!

 

i can take time to hear

i can turn down my personal volume

i can be slower to answer

more hesitant to turn to anger

more open to the possibility that the story might be bigger than mine

and that in this other i may even see something of myself

if i look deep enough

or maybe just if i look at all

 

dare i risk looking at all

dare you?

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