An inspiring pedestrian

Grist magazine has an interview with John Francis, a man who gave up gas-guzzling vehicles for 22 years, and talking for 17. Here’s a taste:

Q: I’m going to read a passage from your book about your decision to stop speaking: “Most of my adult life I have not been listening fully. I only listened long enough to determine whether the speaker’s ideas matched my own. If they didn’t, I would stop listening, and my mind would race ahead to compose an argument against what I believed the speaker’s idea or position to be.”

A: That was one of the tearful lessons for me. Because when I realized that I hadn’t been listening, it was as if I had locked away half of my life. I just hadn’t been living half of my life. Silence is not just not talking. It’s a void. It’s a place where all things come from. All voices, all creation comes out of this silence. So when you’re standing on the edge of silence, you hear things you’ve never heard before, and you hear things in ways you’ve never heard them before. And what I would disagree with one time, I might now agree with in another way, with another understanding.

I also love this statement he makes: “You’re the only person you really have a moral obligation to change. What everyone else does, you don’t have any control over that.” I need to come to grips with that. It is hard for me to deal with how ignorant some people are, and I have to accept the fact that I can’t do anything about it.


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