Always listening.

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

I’m going to have to figure out a way to pull back from politics and settle back into my usual vast panoply of micro-obsessions with geeky minutiae, and I will, soon, I promise, but for now consider this paragraph of wisdom:

Obama has continually been asked to defend something that ought to be at democracy’s heart: the importance of talking to as many people as possible in this complicated and wildly diverse society, of listening with the possibility of learning something new, and of speaking with the possibility of persuading or influencing others.

That’s unfortunately about twice the size of a 140-character tweet, but I send its common sense out to you nonetheless.

It’s by William Ayers. Bill Ayers. The real guy behind the caricature concocted by the Republicans in order to try and win the election. The so-called domestic terrorist.

And you know what? Even if you completely disagree with every thing he has done and stands for (and I urge you to at least read the short piece I’ve linked to above (right now their server is slogging a bit) before you jerk your knees in that direction) you have (I assert) to respect that he nailed a key difference between the President-elect and the current office-holder, and, at the least, McCain v.2008 (as opposed to the 2000 model, which seemed to have a better listening subsystem.)

Simple for me: we have to keep listening.

Here’s one more chunk:

The McCain-Palin attacks not only involved guilt by association, they also assumed that one must apply a political litmus test to begin a conversation.

On Oct. 4, Palin described her supporters as those who “see America as the greatest force for good in this world” and as a “beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy.” But Obama, she said, “Is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America.” In other words, there are “real” Americans — and then there are the rest of us.

In a robust and sophisticated democracy, political leaders—and all of us—ought to seek ways to talk with many people who hold dissenting, or even radical, ideas. Lacking that simple and yet essential capacity to question authority, we might still be burning witches and enslaving our fellow human beings today.

and at the end:

In this time of new beginnings and rising expectations, it is even more urgent that we figure out how to become the people we have been waiting to be.

Something to work on while we’re waiting for January 20th.