Can I start a war? More important, can I STOP one?

I have been thinking about society right now.  A lot of people are upset about a lot of things.  We are fighting and name-calling and blaming, and accusing each other, and self-righteously assuming that we are right, whatever view we hold.  It reminds me a little of what life was like living with active alcoholism.  There was a heck of a lot of shouting and anger going on.  I believed that there was no other option.  Luckily, I was wrong.  At my weekly Al-Anon meetings, month by month, year by year, I have learned how to listen better to what the others are actually saying.  I have learned to keep my mouth shut sometimes, when an angry retort would cause more heat than light.  Over time, my home has changed and is no longer that awful battle ground, and I have heard friends in Al-Anon say that even though there is still alcoholism in their lives, they are able to live a safer, more predictable and more peaceful life.

I wish I could send every angry person to their own safe space, where they would be listened to and where whatever they had to say would be heard politely and not responded to with nasty comments, blame, scorn and self-righteousness.  Providing they were not acting violently, or being verbally abusive, wouldn't that listening help?

In my own life, I am trying to shout less, to blame less and to listen more.  As we say in Al-Anon, 'Listen and Learn'.  That could mean just shutting up and canning my smart retort pointing out how stupid the other guy is being.  It could mean really listening with my heart for their pain behind their anger.  I can't do that as much as I would like to, but when I can, I sometimes see the healing right before my eyes.  And I can feel myself growing and healing too.

Check out the daily reading of October 1 in "Hope for Today".  It ends..."Al-Anon's slogan, 'Listen and Learn' reminds us that if we have the self-discipline to be quiet and pay attention to others' words, we can learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and our world."