Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Day 3: Embrace Silence and Listen

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Jan 18, 2012

The message below went out on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.

“Occupying space is not inherently bad, it’s all about who and how and why.”
–Julian Padilla of the Occupy Wall Street People of Color Working Group

At Occupy locations across the country, the idea of the “human mic” or “peoples mic” has taken hold. Simply put, this is a way of creating a welcoming, pluralistic space where everyone can be easily heard and their words are repeated back to them to express an understanding of what has been said and to amplify the speaker’s voice, without the need for amplification equipment.  For those who have attended Occupy gathering, this way of communicating in large groups is incredibly powerful and provides a unique approach to listening.

Today’s action is about the spaces we occupy with our speech, and the ways in which we listen:

In order to cultivate love, compassion and understanding, it is important to practice active listening in our relationships. Making room for our own thoughts, and space for others’ thoughts, is crucial to standing on the side of love.

Today, from morning to night, speak in a gentle voice, sparingly, allowing for silence as much as possible. 

Note how this feels. Does speaking gently change the nature of your conversations, or how people interact with you?

Share your answers with our community on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove.

**For each of the questions we pose this week, the two responses with the most FB ‘likes’ will receive a free Standing on the Side of Love bumper sticker or rally sign.

The inspiration for today’s action came from a good friend of mine – a mother of two kids, ages 8 and 12 – told me a few weeks ago that she was becoming increasingly frustrated at the tone of voice she found her children using.  They were constantly talking over their friends, as well as each other, and their parents.  The kids were, she said, becoming a couple of “little, interrupting devils.”  What’s worse, she said, is when she sat down to address the issue with her children, her son told her that she did the very same thing.  “Mom,” he told me. “You interrupt all the time. And you are loud!”

“I was mortified,” she said.  “Mainly because I knew it was true. It wasn’t the first time I had heard this about myself, but now I could see it mirrored in my children.”

From that moment forward, my friend set out on a task: she would speak more softly and work not to interrupt other people. “After one hour on the first day,” she said, “I realized just how difficult this would be for me.”

My friend continues to actively work to grant other people more space in conversation, and I have noticed a real change in her demeanor. I am intrigued by what this exercise can mean on a larger scale.

Being the Change,

Dan Furmansky
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side Love

2 Responses to “Day 3: Embrace Silence and Listen”

  1. Denis Wikel says:

    Talking gently and leaving space for others in the conversation is critical to understanding each other. Like the mother of the two children above I have been susprized at my spouses telling me about how frequently I interupt her and talk more than my share.

    Thanks for sharing


  2. Truly listening to another is a way of validating them. It is saying, without words, “You matter to me.” I am continually amazed by comments from others who I’ve really listened to, only mirroring back their own words occasionally. Even when I’ve been totally silent, people have said, “Wow! You really understand me!” or “You really get what I’m talking about!”

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