How to Listen: A Simple Tutorial

In the last several years I have found that many people lack a clear understanding of what is involved in the task of conversation– particularly regarding the art of listening. While this is not a wholly gendered issue, I have found that many men in particular lack the simple skills they need to successfully converse with women on a social level. If you’re unsure if there is a problem, just google “man listening to woman” in comparison to “friends talking.” The images alone speak volumes about a problem of equity in our society that is as simple as understanding how to listen well. After reading the 35 Practical Steps Men can Take to Support Feminism and discussing with several friends item #2 (Share Emotional Labor), I considered that in many ways, most people are not provided direct instruction on how to do this task.

SabrinaZolkifi_June2014_people-talking-cartoon-shutterstock

Given that I learned the art of conversation by reading up on the matter, and by taking a class on listening (as part of a counseling course), I figured I would write a simple informational text on the matter for those who desire to do the same.

Please note that conversational patterns are, for the most part, gendered. Research has shown that men tend to compete for air time, while women tend to take turns and share air time. I am a woman, and I am certain that my gender has informed this tutorial in some way, so please take what is relevant and helpful for you, and leave the rest behind.

Listening is an act of service

The first thing to understand about listening is that it serves both the listener and the speaker. Listening, at its best, is a genuine expression of interest, curiosity, and care. When we care about people, we want to hear their opinions, ideas, feelings, and experiences. Listening can be fun. It can be a relief after a long day (especially for those of us who find it very exhausting coming up with things to say aloud) to listen to a good friend. It can be a great joy. It can also be an honor when people share with us.

But listening is also a sacrificial act of service. Truly good listeners recognize that, through their act of listening, they are facilitating spaces for speakers to become more fulfilled and realized versions of themselves, and skillful listeners craft those spaces carefully and lovingly, without self-interest in mind. A listener must listen compassionately and openly, ready to trust the speaker, to fully engage and try out their ideas, to validate and affirm them. At times a listener might need to work hard to find a way to be interested in what is being said. A listener may need to practice some patience.

No matter how it goes, I find that listening goes best when the listener clearly understands the desires of the speaker.

The Three Types of Listening

If you are setting out to do the service of listening, your first task, after finding someone to listen to, is to determine what that person is most looking for from you. Is that person looking for someone to whom he can vent about his day? Is he looking for someone who will be entertained by a story that happened to him that he found funny? Is he wrestling with a problem that he is trying to solve? Is he struggling with a dilemma and seeking advice? Is he looking for a way to share and explore his own ideas? Is he feeling really excited about something new he learned and does he want to share that?

I have found there are three main types of listening: Listen to Nod, Listen to Push, and Listen to Ask. In most conversations there will be plenty of overlap and a constant, natural movement between the three, but this generalized schema for understanding the possible tasks of a listener will help you develop the skills to deal with all of them, separately or together.

As you determine what your speaker is looking for, make sure that whatever you give is genuine. Each of the main three types of listening can be rewarding, fun, and relationship-building, as long as you truly care and want to offer this service to the person. If you are faking it, both of you will regret the conversation shortly after it begins.

  1. Listen to Nod

Listening to nod is a type of listening in which you share in a person’s emotions, feelings, and recountings of what has happened to him or her, as if you are nodding along. If you are familiar with the “It’s not about the nail” video on Youtube, you may have an understanding of what a speaker is looking for in the Listening to Nod category. In this category, your primary task is to agree with what the speaker is saying. To express surprise, shock, awe, or joy when the speaker gives the punch line, or to express disgust, horror, sadness, pain or any other emotion the speaker is experiencing as the speaker explains whatever has caused that emotion. Your primary job is to agree– not just with your words, but with your heart. During this type of listening, you offer your own emotional space as a mirror and additional space for him or her to express what he is going through. This can be nice, because it doesn’t require you to problem solve or think very hard… you just get to sit back, enjoy the ride, and share life with someone. Sitting with someone attentively, making the right facial expressions, and giving vocalizations of assent are the key task of a listener here.

Some examples of this type of listening are when a speaker says, “I had a rough day today.” Or “the funniest thing happened to me today!” or “I just called because I need someone to vent to,” or “Oh my gosh have you seen that video clip?” In all of these cases, a speaker is introducing his or her desire to share emotions with another person. As the chosen listener, you should feel honored that you get to participate in the speaker’s life, and– if you have chosen your friends well– find yourself entertained, horrified, or rewarded with a sense of camaraderie– of doing life together and getting to share the things that happen to us with each other.

Please note that every person has a different threshold for how much attention they want in a one-on-one (or other type of) Listening to Nod conversation. Some people need ten seconds to vent, some people need an hour and a half. As you get to know your friends as speakers, you can cater to these particularities in their speaking habits. Definitely don’t force a speaker to continue speaking about something s/he is done talking about.

If you are unsure whether a speaker wants to continue or stop, the easiest way to check is to wait, silently, for about 2-3 full seconds after a speaker finishes talking. If the speaker still has something to say, the speaker will use this silence as an indication to continue. If the speaker is finished, his/her body language will alter and he/she may even say something like “Okay. I’m done now. How was your day?” You can also use these several seconds to process what was said and come up with a helpful response (i.e. a follow up question; see below). Just don’t be in a hurry.

Wait time: it’s the trick.

  1. Listen to Push

Listening to Push is the opposite end of the spectrum from Listening to Nod. In this case, a speaker is facing a true dilemma and is seeking help because he or she genuinely doesn’t know what to do and wants to be absolved of her own responsibility in the matter. In this case, the speaker is hoping to be led a certain direction by whatever wisdom or outside perspective you can offer. In the “It’s not about the nail” video, the listener interpreted the speaker’s desires as a need to a ‘Listen to Push,’ which is why he offered suggestions and fixes, and pointed to certain problems. This is a common mistake made in inter-gender conversations by men, who rarely Listen to Nod with each other, so when women ask Listening to Nod of them, they are confused, and instead resort to Listening to Push. Women, who are looking for emotional support and validation, suddenly find themselves defensive and pushed, and, as a result, they feel frustrated. Such miscommunication is why it is so essential to understand the speaker’s desires when you set out to listen.

In the case of Listening to Push, it is the listener’s job to first ask a series of questions to truly get a grasp of the situation and the speaker’s desires. Clarify as much as you need to until you fully understand what happened. The speaker will appreciate fully rehashing his or her problem, and the help you can give will improve exponentially once you have a full grasp from all your clarifying questions. Then, and only then, it is the listener’s job to offer leading questions, probing questions, suggestions, ideas, and relevant pieces of evidence and advice.

Cues for Listen to Push are when speakers say things like, “What do you think I should do?” or “I don’t understand what this means. What does this mean to you?” or “Can you walk me through what you did when this happened to you?” These are direct asks for help and advice.

Please note that some emotionally immature people will make an ask for Listen to Push and then, once they start receiving advice, will change their minds and revert to Listen to Nod. This happens because the prospect of solving the problem is too much of an emotional unknown, and it is easier to maintain the initial emotional state. In this case, you should return to Listen to Nod in order to be kind to the speaker.

  1. Listen to Ask

Perhaps my favorite type of listening is Listening to Ask. This type of listening is an act of service where the listener gets to be a part of shaping, forming, and supporting the realization of the speaker’s ideas. Through genuine curiosity and well-made follow-up questions, a listener creates a space for a speaker to expand upon, realize, and articulate his or her ideas on a matter. If you have ever seen a speaker really excited to talk about what he or she is talking about, there is probably a very skilled listener nearby, participating in Listening to Ask.

In Listening to Ask, a listener pays attention to what a speaker is really interested in and cares about, and begins to ask questions whose answers the listener is curious to hear and the speaker is excited to share more about. Some people who are very passionate about their career fields or about certain political ideas or a certain place they traveled to or a book they read can go on about these things forever if they are speaking to the right person. These conversations result from questions like, “Have you decided who you are voting for?” or “How did you get into that field?” or “Have you been following those protests? What do you think?” or “What did you think of that movie?”

And the listener, through this, learns something new, potentially developing a new interest or idea to check out. Listening to Ask is a great way to learn, to develop friendships with interesting people, and to support the intellectual stimulation and idea creation of your brilliant and interesting friends.

The Importance of Follow-Up Questions

I find that the biggest mistake made by amateur, unskilled listeners, is the inability to come up with successful follow-up questions in the pace of a conversation. This is absolutely crucial to being a good listener in all three types of listening, because it indicates (a) that you are interested, (b) what specifically you are more interested in, and (c) where the conversation should go. It is a huge service to the speaker, who is already bearing much of the burden of the conversation by actually coming up with words and tone and energy and ideas. Conversation requires multiple sides, and questions are the glue that holds everything together, the gas that keeps everything going.

We have all been with someone who likes us and cares about us and asks us “How was your day?” to which we respond, “Not the best, but I’m okay,” and then the person, instead of picking up on this, says simply, “Oh, I’m sorry.” The person has correctly interpreted that we are desiring Listen to Nod. But the person doesn’t actually get to the important listening part, because she doesn’t help you share! She has left you in silence still, because she hasn’t done the digging you needed her to do.

This is essential, especially for many women and members of other marginalized groups, who feel that expressing their emotions out loud is a burden upon others that only invalidates them as stable and mature conversational partners and idea makers. They fear launching into a story of their day because you might not emotionally meet them there, and you might criticize them for it or not fully believe them. That is part of society’s narrative of women especially. So some people will couch their desires to be heard in “but it’s okay” sentiments that give their listeners an easy opt-out. As a listener, you should be aware of your speaker’s fear of judgment and fear of being invalidated and work extra hard to mirror the speaker’s emotions. This may feel awkward at first, but it will become easier with practice. If emotions make you uncomfortable, the intellectual work of crafting perfect follow-up questions can keep you occupied, because this is exactly the space where good follow-up questions make all the difference.

A good follow-up question must meet the following requirements:

1. It must build on what the speaker just said. In the above scenario, the correct follow-up question is “Oh, what happened?”

2. It should dig further into a specific detail that you (the listener) want to genuinely know more about, preferably using details you already know from before. In the above scenario, our speaker, especially if she’s particularly wary, likely will respond vaguely to the first follow-up question: “Just… working with my partner Sally can be really hard.” To follow-up on this comment, the listener could ask directly “What did Sally do today?” That is fine, but an even better question, if the listener had already have heard a story about Sally before, is to offer the story to the speaker first. “Did she mess up the office files again?”

What this shows is that (a) you heard her last time she talked about Sally, and you were interested enough to remember it, and (b) you want her to tell her story. You have taken the burden off of her to jump into an emotional tale she’s afraid of being judged for. I like this method a lot when listening. And don’t worry if the story you suggest is totally off! Correcting you is a much easier task than entertaining you, so your speaker will feel at ease almost immediately in telling you the actual juicy drama of the day.

3. One follow-up question is never enough. You should ask enough follow-up questions to fully exhaust the subject, but not exhaust the speaker. Let him or her really talk out what he/she really wants to talk about. Keep asking until he/she is done. Ask what he/she is going to do about it. Ask if it’s ever happened before. Ask if the other workers down the hall had the same problem. If she is still interested in talking about it, and you’re still enjoying listening, then keep it going.

4. Grab the out (or plan it). When you feel the speaker has nearly exhausted the topic, you should listen for potential questions you can ask that will move the conversation in a new direction. If none present themselves as you are wrapping up the subject, you may wish to cast around internally for other topics you want to bring up. Be ready with an out for your speaker, if your speaker doesn’t provide you one already (your speaker may do this if he/she scores high on the fairness scale. See below*). This can keep the conversation going.

Body Language

Last, but certainly not least, body language is very important in listening. If you are checking your phone, looking about the room, leaning away from a person, interrupting, or otherwise indicating that you have better things to do or are looking for an opportunity to leave, you are not being a good listener. It’s not just that you’re being rude– you are giving cues that the speaker isn’t worth your attention, and you are distracting the speaker from his or her primary task. The general rule of thumb is that a good listener should physically mirror the person he/she is talking to. If your speaker leans forward, you lean forward. If your speaker sits up, you sit up. If your speaker turns to face the room, you stand next to him, facing the room.

For the most part, your body will do this automatically. We are programmed to communicate our care and interest in people through body language and tone. We are programmed to mirror each other physically and emotionally. Mostly, in this day and age, you need to simply be aware of the draw of certain distractions and be able to resist the temptation to give into them.

*A Note on Fairness

Fairness is the awareness and willingness to take turns in the course of conversation. It is an official score on certain personality inventories (some marriage success research has been done using the fairness scale). If you have ever met a highly talkative person who is a particularly poor listener, you have met someone who scores low on the fairness scale. That person probably talked your ear off for an excessive amount of time, possibly bored you and ignored certain social cues from you, and still didn’t know how to fix the situation so she/he kept talking on, spending all your listening energy.

On the other hand, the people with whom you have conversations that seem to be equally balanced, a perfect tennis match of words and ideas, probably would earn very high scores on the fairness scale. They believe in taking turns. They believe if one of you shares about your day fully, then it’s the other person’s turn to share about his day fully. They are interested and interesting. These people will likely use up their airtime comfortably and then easily turn the conversation in your direction and serve you as a listener in return. Hopefully these conversations pass easily, automatically, with a natural flow you barely even notice. These conversations are a joy.

If you are a really excellent listener, please be aware that you may be guilted into spending more time listening to unfair people in social settings, simply because you will do it and because those people will eat up your listening skills in self-centered wonder. Please do not do that. Instead, you should send the unfair person this article, and go find someone better to have a conversation with.

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How do we change the world? Part II: A Treatise on Human Nature

Scale of Goodness

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A Treatise on Human Nature

No human is fundamentally, inherently, completely evil. While we all have our personality differences, and we all probably have self-interested, competitive, lazy, or ignorant tendencies, the actual completion of evil action that hurts others doesn’t come naturally to us. As much as we have instincts to protect ourselves, we also have instincts of compassion and the desire to please others.

This is why the question of evil is such a fascinating one. Arguably, all that is wrong with the world is the fault of humans. Yet humans aren’t born monsters. Human nature doesn’t work like that; someone whom we call “evil” is someone who has acted in an evil way enough times to develop a habit of evil, at which point it is a character trait. But evil isn’t a personality. We don’t put it on our driver’s licenses like our eye color or our height. And you might even find that it changes situationally. Humans who do evil things become that way because they are hurt, broken, ignorant, or put into situations that somehow bring out the worst in them.

This doesn’t mean we don’t have choices. But, unfortunately, choice-making is not actually one of our strengths. Humans are pretty terrible at thinking through our actions, words, and lives, and for the most part we live dumbly and uncritically—following habits and expectations laid out for us.

Nor does this mean that we are born in a vacuum. On the contrary, each of us is born into a position of either privilege or disadvantage, usually related to class, nationality, skin color, education, language/culture, or gender. As we make choices within our positions of power, we move up and down the scale of human goodness. If we make a choice to hurt people in our own self-interest, we move towards evil. If we make a choice to do good for people against our own self-interest, we move towards good. If we have little power in the world, our actions affect few others, so we stay near the middle of the scale. If we have great power in the world, our actions have huge repercussions for others, so we swing about wildly.

Many people would say that the more power you have, the harder it is to do good. This is why we are so impressed by people in power whom we admire; they’ve kept their heads and their hearts together. I’m not sure if I agree. I think the question is really who you are listening to. Are the people, systems, and institutions around you reminding you of your principles and purpose? Are they expecting you to do good? Are they giving you regular feedback about your character and its importance to them? Or are they encouraging you to win money at all cost? Are they encouraging you to protect your own interests? Are they encouraging you to ignore the needs of the wider world?

This is why systems and institutions and communities are so important: they either help us become better humans or make us worse humans.

One of my friends from college, Tim (name changed for this) and I met in a summer sublet. He was tall, smart, and goofy. Our first conversation together was 8 hours long. We discussed urban education, the nature of evil, the ways cities are structured, what causes we most care about, our families, our friends, and so much more. He wanted a comfortable life for his family, for the most part. He didn’t need to do anything heroic. But he would be willing to donate or share or help out if one of his friends asked. And he cared.

Three years later, I ran into Tim in Boston, where we both now live and work. He had become a consultant, and he was with some of his friends from work. We were excited to see each other. I joined them all for dinner and we made conversation. A few things quickly became clear: (1) they had zero interest in, or respect for, my job as an urban public school teacher, and (2) Tim had become obsessed with earning money. He and one of his colleagues spent much of the evening bemoaning the fact that they went to school for the wrong thing and if they had only started out at X they would be now earning so and so.

At the end of the night, I wished him well as I hopped onto the city bus to take me home. I haven’t seen him since, though I’m curious if he’s changed again.

Tim’s concept of success had been completely reshaped in the little bubble in which he was living. There was no sign left of the fascinating guy I had met in college, who cared so much about the world and was so interested in how it worked, who only wanted a comfortable family life. All that was left was a cookie-cutter Wall Street craving for more money and the perfect American life: 1 suburban home, 2.5 children, and enough vacation time to make it all pleasant. At least, that was what was being exhibited in our conversation with his coworkers.

I don’t think Tim is an evil person. However, I don’t think he is consciously making choices to be a force for good in the world either, and as a result, because of his situation and actions, he’s drifting down the scale. Then I wonder– if I asked him to donate to my classroom, would he be relieved to have the opportunity to do good? If I asked for his help, would he come in and volunteer? How much of doing good is merely the opportunity?

A few cautions about this graphic. I agonized over whether to create a separate category between 8 and 9 for people who at least keep themselves informed about issues, desire to change the wider world and do good, and like to have conversations about how to make the world a better place. I eventually decided this didn’t merit its own category. For all of us, our beliefs lead to action in some way, and the ways we exhibit our goodness are our own. If you are having conversations about the world, then you may in fact be a leader in some way, because you’re helping shape other people’s ideas and drive the conversation. And if you keep it on your to do list forever but never do anything, then your actions aren’t doing good for the world, so I am not sure you should get credit for it.

Lastly, I know that most of us want to be in one category but are actually in another, or we drift between two depending on what situation we are in, or we evaluate ourselves in different ways at different stages in our lives. This is by no means intended to be comprehensive, judgmental, or final. It’s a thought experiment that’s meant to start a conversation about human nature. No one’s pointing fingers.

From Robert Mugabe to Mother Theresa, Cheney to Obama, your mother to your best friend, we all fit somewhere on the scale. Where are you? Would you draw the scale differently? What values and principles guide the categories you create?

Especially for world changers, I think it’s worthwhile to think about the other people making up the world, how to mobilize or cater to them, or how to set up systems and institutions for them to be able to do better. And for all the other 7s and 8s trying to be 9s… I’m with you!

How do we change the world? Part I: Florida’s Flooding isn’t Funny

IBtimes.com / reuters

In the last few weeks, my Facebook wall has been inundated with photographs of a Tampa underwater. Drowning under days and days of rain, Tampa’s drainage system seemed to fall short of its function, and friends of mine described being stranded, being re-routed, and being more than minorly inconvenienced. And a hurricane wasn’t even in sight.

Not dissimilarly, seven months ago, my Facebook newsfeed was plastered in Boston snow memes. Our city was experiencing some of the strangest weather most of us had ever known. School was interrupted. Transportation was interrupted. It was crazy: we had one mound of snow in Boston that lasted until the end of July. Four more months and it would have been a glacier.

Facebook has a way of making entertainment out of almost anything. But the value of a punch line sometimes lets us miss the crucial story: Boston and Tampa are both coastal cities, experiencing drastically abnormal weather that threatens the livelihood of their residents. We can’t continue to ignore the fact that Climate Change is becoming tangible. I’m starting to think that we’ve all been afraid of actually looking at climate change head-on, that we’ve stayed in denial because we can; that we haven’t done anything about it because we feel like there is nothing we can do, or maybe that it’s not that big a deal. It affects the polar bears; not us.

This sense of helplessness and disinterest is going to be our downfall. We need to look. It’s time.

I traveled all summer long, on three different continents. And everywhere I went, the story was the same:

In Slovenia, I spoke to people who had grown up with cold alpine winters. They shook their heads as they told me how in the last ten years the winters were just getting less consistent and less cold. Skiing is harder now, things are different. As they said this, the air conditioner rattled and groaned, trying to pump enough cool air into the room to mask the absurd 98 degree temperatures outside. A massive, brutal heat wave…  in the Alps?

I also traveled out west, where Montana remains, at this moment, at the whim of a set of terrifying wildfires. Over 700 firemen are working round the clock to keep the fires in check. As my friends and I rafted down an uncannily still and shallow river, the guide said, “Yeah, this is supposed to be a pretty wet season, but it’s barely rained since the spring. It’s strange. It’s like we lost two months– you can see the leaves are already starting to change. Nature thinks it’s fall now, even though it’s only July.”

And then I traveled to India, which is admittedly, already a hot place. But this year, thousands of people died in a heat wave all across India. My friends there shook their heads and told and re-told the details, making sure I knew about it. “Even here, the heat this year was too much.”

The crazy thing? Everywhere but America, the same two words come across people’s lips. Global Warming.

Journalism about Global Warming is limited. The New Yorker published a piece in its recent issue about the secretariat of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), Christiana Figueres, who tries to negotiate with every country and manage the process of limiting emissions, but I haven’t read any other pieces in the last few weeks. Maybe only 2 others in the last few months. It’s an easy topic to miss, to stay silent about, or to ignore.

In fact, the conversation about Climate Change in the states is pretty marginalized– a few people here and there, mostly people who work in activism or technology, talk about it with more than just a despairing shrug. Too few of us actually alter our lifestyles, and those who do are often seen as a little too ‘out there:’ don’t worry, it’s just those prius-driving, biking, walking, turning-off-the-A/C, eating-fresh-veggies types.

Such an attitude defeats the cause in two major ways:

  1. We are still vastly too ignorant as a populace about which of our actions impacts global warming, why, and how much.
  2. We are drastically underestimating how climate change is already and will continue to be changing the world over the course of the next several decades… which for most of us will be our children’s lives.

As a high school english teacher, I admittedly spend far too much time in imagined dystopian realities, since every other teen book that comes out these days is set in a strange future world. But I actually think there is a lot of power in imagination. Can we imagine the beautiful ecosystems of our national parks wilting, then slowly dying out? Hundreds of square miles of forests and grassland and countless species of wildlife, susceptible to disease or invasion? Can we imagine a world where it is too hot to step outside in the summers and all buildings require massive air conditioners, which only hurt the cause? Can we imagine vast swathes of the poorest of the poor, having to live at the mercy of nature’s conditions, dying of heat stroke, not able to find water? Can we imagine bidding wars for water or oil or other natural resources? Can we imagine unmanageable weather patterns– hurricanes, snow storms, droughts– without mercy or advance warning? Can we imagine our coastal cities and beaches, abandoned and hauntingly empty buildings that have fallen into disuse, because the water is slowly taking over and the flooding is too common? Can we imagine the people who can’t afford to move, staying and trying to make a living in that place, because they’ve lost all their investment in properties that are no longer worth anything? Can we imagine an earth completely depleted of resources, with only bugs and worms left to prove that there was once biodiversity here? That there was once beauty here?

I’m not sure what changed it for me. I’m not sure when it occurred to me that there was not only great urgency to the problems of the world that face us, but also that we each have great personal responsibility. I’m done blaming everything on corporations and banks and throwing up my hands.

Maybe that’s what changed: it’s the moment I realized that there is still hope. We didn’t give up when the catholic church didn’t want to change, back in the 1500s. We didn’t give up when people were losing their lives to defend scientific advances in the 1600s. We didn’t give up when it seemed like Britain was going to take over and enslave the whole world in the 1700s. We didn’t give up when it seemed like slavery was an institution that would stay forever in the 1800s. We didn’t give up when it was hard to get women the vote in the 1900s. We didn’t give up when we realized CFCs were a huge issue in the 1960s.

So why are we giving up now? Why are we assuming that nothing can be done about the deregulation of banks? Why are we assuming that the economy, education, and wars are only going to get worse? Why are we assuming that the fight for sustainability is already lost? Why are we assuming the world is over?

These fights require our efforts, and our hope. Now is the time to give it our all.

And there is plenty I can do:

  • I can choose my job. What company will I work for? What will I do with my day to day life?
  • I can pursue leadership in my job. How will I lead? What will I work for? What do I want my company to do for the world? Can I help provide for and protect other people’s jobs? Can I nurture and support the people who depend on me?
  • I can choose how I spend my money. What companies will I support? What production processes will I support? Will I buy things made by slaves? Will I buy things that damage the environment? Will I support local business? Will I support wasteful packaging?
  • I can give companies feedback. I am constantly being asked about my experience and my preferences- I can give them ideas, publicly or privately, about what matters to me.
  • I can choose whom to vote for to lead my government. Who will fight for the things I want my government to do?
  • I can choose to run for office. Will I participate in local politics? Will I be a member of my state legislature? Will I work for the government in a public service position of any kind?
  • I can choose what to do with my spare money. Will I invest in certain stocks? Will I open a 401K? With whom? Will I invest in microfinance? Will I donate the money to a cause? Which cause?
  • I can make myself a better person and the lives of people around me better. I can be honest, kind, and good. I can bring joy and good will to my community. I can be a model there. I can bring new conversations that change hearts and minds.

There are so many ways to change the world these days, so many ways to vote with our time, money, and effort. We may have our eyes and ears full of Donald Trump and our own frustrations, but if we blinked a few times, we might see just how much power we have to shift things.