Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Listening with the intent to understand

By Ruwan Teodros

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Tristam Sparks/Flickr)

(Tristam Sparks/Flickr)

Coming to college was a shock to my system – not just because there were endless amounts of pizza and ice cream shoved in my face (hello, freshman 30. The freshman 15 is a lie, I promise you).

At my relatively small high school community in Beirut, Lebanon, my friends and I all developed similar opinions and thoughts on a number of social issues, the top of the list being politics.

For example, if you were to ask any of my friends from home, every single one of them would consider themselves to be pro-Palestinian. This is a stance that I would proudly defend any day and have found myself heatedly discussing on numerous occasions throughout my life. I recognize my own bias when it comes to the Israeli occupation of Palestine – I grew up right next to it.

At the University of Massachusetts, this is not the case. I have heard countless opinions on the Palestinian-Israeli situation that are not in agreement with mine. At first, any time I heard a contradiction to my opinion, I was livid.

But coming to UMass taught me to realize that not everyone is going to have the same opinions as me – as a matter of fact, almost no one has the exact same mindset as myself. This irked me. I grew up in my bubble, as everyone else did, and believed the way I thought was the only way to think.

With the presidential primaries nearing, my friends and I have found ourselves debating the merits of the various candidates. Do you “Feel the Bern,” or want to “Make America Great Again?” Are we ready for our first female president? Are we going to vote another Bush into the White House? Will Ben Carson be the second African-American president in history? These are all questions that make their rounds time and time again during late night conversations among my group of friends.

Usually, I will give my input here and there, but I have started to really enjoy listening. I nod my head once in a while and give some vocal support when needed, but I mostly remain quiet. For those who know me, they will be surprised at this; I am usually the loudest in the room, disrupting everyone’s train of thought far too often.

However, what college has taught me (not including anything from my general education requirement classes – that goes in one ear and goes out the other) is that I have to listen first and talk after.

I used to listen to people’s opinions that were different from mine and immediately begin to formulate a rebuttal in my mind.  I was demolishing their argument bit by bit in a matter of seconds. It never crossed my mind to just listen to their opinion without fighting it.

Now, although I find myself on the Democratic side of the political spectrum, I am willing to hear what people who have placed their support in Republican candidates have to say. You will now see me sitting at Berkshire, calmly listening to a Trump vs. Bernie conversation instead of making sure that everyone in the vicinity knew how displeased I was with a few statements that Trump has made recently.

This doesn’t mean that I have sacrificed my opinions in an attempt to placate others, but that I have learned to appreciate and understand that people think differently from myself. Trust me, I am not a brand new woman – I can still be quite obtuse at times.

Nevertheless, I have learned to listen with the intent to understand instead of reply – and my life is so much better for it.

Ruwan Teodros is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]


2 Responses to “Listening with the intent to understand”

  1. Arafat on February 19th, 2016 9:14 am

    Ruwan, why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from you?

    But if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims and Liberals and their ilk will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated.

    For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe. This is Islam’s way, not the Jew’s way. Jews control next o no land despite their being around for thousands of years before the imperialistic religion of Islam began.

    Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists? How do you explain the difference, Ruwan? Are there special rules for Israel? Is that what you’re really telling us?

    Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical.

    And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists have lived on for thousands of years now belongs to Islam. Why isn’t there an end the Occupation of Thailand movement? Or might that hurt the oh-so sensitive Muslim’s feelings?

    And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims since Islam deserves all lands.

    Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims. All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess. They can go to South Sudan, but wait a minute, now Muslims are killing the people of South Sudan too.

    And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for 4,000 years – something like 2,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it? Muslim logic, I guess. Ruwan’s logic, I guess.

    And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam too. Did you know that? It’s true. Just ask a Muslim or a liberal if you prefer. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their point.

    Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it does. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage. And thanks to people like Ruwan this is happening before our very eyes.

  2. Ruwan on February 21st, 2016 9:58 pm

    Did you completely misunderstand the point of the article? I can respect your opinion because it is different than mine and you in turn, should respect mine. I don’t care to argue with you and write a long essay in which I give a rambling history lesson that I copy pasted off Wikipedia. I am confident enough in my own opinions and the basis for my opinions that I will not sink to your level and berate you with a long, insulting essay.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

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