Time to Listen

I posted this on July 3 on Through The Tollbooth. Here it is again (typos and redundancies included!!)


Tomorrow is the 4th of July. Independence Day. Like a lot of you, I will go to parties and watch fireworks. Wave the flag. Chill out.

Yesterday, I went to a memorial for the three teenagers killed in Israel. They were not soldiers. They were not acting politically. They were killed because they were Jewish.

The ceremony was moving and solemn. Songs were sung. Poetry read. Rabbis as well as politicians offered mostly calm, reflective thoughts. In the wake of this tragedy, it was important to act with righteous indignation. To laugh. To thrive. Israel needed to live. We would not forget these boys.

As we left, we heard of the Palestinian boy, murdered for revenge. Eye for an eye. One man pumped his fist.

In this world, there is a lot of anger. There is more screaming than talking, more sarcasm than sincerity. We don’t do a lot of listening anymore. Recently, on my Facebook page, someone (I do not know…honestly, she could be not a real person), wrote something very ugly in response to my disappointment with the Hobby Lobby  decision by SCOTUS.

(That anger and comment and fist pump brought back a bad memory: when I was sixteen, I marched in a parade for Israel. Men threw rocks at me. My sister and I had to run for our lives.)

Anyway, at first, that mean post felt like a fluke. But I know it isn’t. These days, nothing surprises me. This is how we now talk to each other.

We scream. We shoot. We kill. We throw rocks.

We do not listen.

On the fourth of July, yes! Let’s celebrate freedom! But to be honest, I’m not feeling it. I am saddened. It used to be that people who disagreed could talk to each other, debate candidly, and find common ground. It used to be that we didn’t need to have a gun or a vicious word. Even in our world, bad book reviews used to be polite.

Writers, I think we are best at our craft when we listen MORE.

I have found that I am most creative and most successful when I spend a lot of time listening. These days, as I revise one book and start another (Thank you Walter Dean Myers for opening my eyes to the idea of writing more than one thing at once), I NEED quiet. To listen. To think. To have peace. Maybe if we all do that–if we step away from the noise and the internet and the screaming and the insults and the gunfire–maybe then we can begin to celebrate independence. And DEPENDENCE. We can help each other. We can make the world better. For indeed, we need each other.

Happy Fourth.


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