In Praise Of Not Listening
It is challenging when our kids or students don’t listen to us… How easy life as a parent or a teacher would be if every child would graciously simply do what they are told?
But kids often don’t listen, especially if they don’t like what you have to say or if what you are saying is boring or irrelevant to their unique worlds. And why should they?
Do you attentively listen to everything that everyone says or whatever is asked of you? You might nod and say “yes, yes…” but you will only absorb or put into action what you deem meaningful or important.
We value obedience in children, but as an adult, would you like to be an obedient person? As grownups, we despise this quality.
All these facts make me think about how important it is to not listen. At least some of the time.
Humans have evolved so fast, way beyond our genetics, and some may claim that it is because we have thumbs. But other apes, monkeys, chameleons, koalas, possums, pandas, lemurs, sugar gliders and even Waxy Monkey Tree Frogs have opposable thumbs.
I’m here to tell you today that maybe the real reason for our rapid evolution is not our thumbs, but our stubbornness and disobedience.
I assume that evolutionary, the genes of not listening should have been eradicated… Imagine being in a tribe in the jungle or mountains and being chased by wild animals or an opposing tribe; for the survival of the whole tribe, if you didn’t listen we would have left you behind or maybe even thrown you off the cliff. The geans of not listening would have died with you and everyone else that did not survive the ordeal.
But no, it seems that not listening is much more deeply rooted in our genetics. Maybe it is even what makes us human.
This is what it comes down to: If we always listened, nothing would ever change. We would simply keep doing it all the way it was always done, day after day, year after year, millennia after millennia.
Our rapid evolution is very possibly because we don’t listen, because we challenge authority, because we get tired and bored by doing it the same way again and again, because we dare to try new ways of doing and being, because we imagine things that seem nearly impossible and we are determined to bring our crazy ideas into reality.
So yes, listening is convenient, short term.
But long term, we want to be free of the past, we want to be emancipated from authority, we want to grow and evolve, we want to reach the stars and beyond, we want a brighter future for us and for our children, we want things we can’t even imagine now… And we will get there because we hate to be told what to do, we abhor being limited and put into a box, and we detest people who are compliant or fatalists who have given hope for change.
We are our happiest when we are free, when we are creative, when we have new ideas and when we are supported to just go for it even if they are deranged, when we try new things, when we go beyond our limits because that is being truly human, this is living to our full potential and this is what it feels to be TRULY ALIVE!
So is it really so bad when kids don’t listen?
I know, I get frustrated sometimes too… But maybe they don’t listen because they are more human than us; their spirit has not been broken yet.
Maybe we shouldn’t listen either.
Maybe we shouldn’t listen together :-)
Or at least now that we understand how important it is not to listen, we can learn to be not just more patient, but also more supportive of those subordinate children.
What rules are you going to break today (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone)?
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