The Intent to Understand

image1I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for a few weeks now, contemplating whether I should post it or not. In light of the results from the recent US election, I’ve decided that I would like to share these particular personal opinions and experiences as a topic of discussion. I do not expect everyone to agree with my statements as I am completely open to opposition, but I am writing about this as it is what I have actively dealt with for the past 6 weeks.

Firstly, I believe that there are two kinds of people in the world and Stephen R. Covey, an American author, puts it perfectly into words.

“There are those that listen with the intent to understand and those that listen with the intent to respond.”

It has been during my time in Israel that this statement has become very evident, with the latter quite apparent within two nations that reside in this one country. The Israeli/Palestinians and the Americans.

What highlights the battle of opinion and lack of intent to understand is that these nations rely strongly on each other, yet both only want to hear their own voices. I have found myself having what feels similar to a debate with both nationalities regarding various topics. This can range from the simple, such as how to cook a food item, to the complicated such as war, religion and money. It is when you are in disagreement or wish to provide an alternative opinion to engage and open the mindset of the person you are discussing the topic with, that it will only spin the conversation in circles, as they do not wish to hear your thoughts in their entirety.

Each conversation will always follow a similar structure. I will either make a statement that is then rephrased and spat back at me as if I am stupid, but only reiterates what I have just said. Alternatively, throughout a lengthy chat a question will be asked repeatedly, or asked immediately after the exact answer had just been given. This clearly shows how there is no intent to understand as they are too busy formulating a biased response to fully pay attention to the conversation being had.

It is frustrating to deal with as an outsider, but allows for personal clarity and perspective to know how not to implement this attitude into my own lifestyle. If only each side could take the time and patience it requires to have an adult conversation, without resulting in shouting matches, vying to speak over the top of one another, then maybe, just maybe, there could be a little less conflict whilst eating cereal at the breakfast table. Obviously each person is entitled to their own opinion and to project their ideas. Their opinion also might not necessarily change when speaking with an opposing point of view, but if they were to open themselves to understanding another thought process, it can only help to create personal grow.

For me I know I can be stubborn, outspoken and loud. I am aware of my faults and every day I work towards making myself a better person, or I choose to remove myself from a situation where no good can be formed when my personality is involved. Spending time in this monumental country has allowed me to gain so much knowledge in an area I was completely in the dark about. I can blame various reasons behind previously not spending the time to research further into the culture and the history of Israel, but I will be honest. I avoided it purposefully due to the high tension these discussions produce and the type of people you find yourself having the discussion with.

It is quite clear that many residing in Israel, both Israeli/Palestinian or American have dedicated their lives to studying the history, politics and religion of this country, that of course they will have stronger notions than myself and others. However, it is when they start channelling this train of thought into entitled behaviour on every aspect of conversation they have with another person, this includes telling someone they don’t understand how to do a basic human task, or more towards the extreme, that a person isn’t even entitled to an opinion based on their ethnicity, sex or religious beliefs, then maybe they need to take a step back and have a look at themselves as a human.

For America it’s time to stop believing you have the right to dictate the soil of a land that is not yours, and for the Israeli/Palestinians it’s time to stop enforcing ideals to such an extreme extent of how people should interact together whilst visiting the country. If the last 24 hrs are anything to go by, we can’t let close-minded and complaining attitudes to continue down what will only be a self destructing path, causing further turmoil that will then radiate further amongst an entire population. If you want to see a change in the world for positivity, then be that change, but be open and understanding first.

♥ Love from Leah