It turns out that John Ibbitson of “The Globe and Mail” is a better wise man than he is a political prognosticator.
A month before Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America, Mr. Ibbitson predicted,
Donald Trump will probably lose the election.
But Ibbitson went on to suggest that Mr. Trump’s candidacy represents
a final warning.
What is this “final warning” Trump issues?
Unless political elites of both the left and the right become more humble, unless they once again ask themselves how their agendas will play in Peoria, the next rough beast might slouch over the corpse of the republic.
Well, it turns out we don’t have to wait for “the next rough beast [to] slouch over the corpse of the republic.” The first one was chosen to occupy the White House on Tuesday 8 November 2016.
And, since that day, Mr. Trump, his staff, and his followers have been mocked, ridiculed, attacked, and vilified by an angry press and a terrified populace. Trump has been routinely compared to Hitler and has been diagnosed in public as suffering from multiple psychological ailments. His family have been pilloried and his policies viciously attacked.
The two things that have been scarce in any reaction to the presidential election are the two qualities Mr. Ibbitson recommends: careful listening (“how will it play in Peoria?”) and humility (“both the left and the right [must] become more humble”).
To listen carefully requires a genuine heart opening towards the other, an acceptance of that which seems strange and foreign, and a willingness to open to ideas that may seem simply wrong.
I cannot hear you if I start with resistance to everything you have to say. Your words will never make sense to me, if I begin with the assumption that you are wrong and dangerous. I will never hear you if I start with the conviction that, if you were as well-educated and enlightened as I and my like-minded friends, you would certainly see the light and agree with us.
I will only begin to hear you when I am willing to maintain the possibility that you may be right, or that there is something true in what you have to say, or at least, that I may have something to learn from your position.
Humility is the ground in which true listening and real conversation will grow. Humility is willing to say, I may be wrong, or at least I may not have the entire picture. You may have some insight to contribute that might help me reach a more adequate understanding of the world.
In order to have any hope of grasping more fully the mysterious complexity of the world we share, I need you to speak. I need your contribution to the conversation that is this vast diverse mysterious human community in which we must find a way to travel together.
I understand that you will only speak honestly and fully if you believe that I respect your position and value your ideas, even when we do not agree.
I confess I have been lacking in respect for you. I have failed to take you seriously and failed to seek to understand why you hold the ideas that seem so true and important to you. It has been easier for me to write you off, to dismiss you as a fringe element of our community beneath my consideration.
My failure to enable a real conversation between us shows me that I need to work on my heart. I need to find ways to soften and open to you. I cannot afford to exclude you any longer from my consciousness.
The best way for us to proceed is by asking questions. So, tomorrow I will share a few questions that I think might help move our conversation forward.