Audi alteram partem.
That’s Latin for “listen to the other side” or “let the other side be heard as well”. This legal maxim keeps the courtroom fair: Wise judgements cannot be made unless everyone is heard.
Audi alteram partem. That’s good advice outside the courtroom too. It is increasingly easy to misjudge one another because it is increasingly difficult to listen to one another. Our society, our world, our soul suffers as a result.
NOT BUILT FOR LISTENING
We tune into news channels and subscribe to publications that will report on what we care about with the bias we prefer.
Facebook’s algorithms are rigged to show us more of what we like and less of what we don’t. We are served a stream of perspectives similar to our own.
We choose a church that affirms our points of view on the matters that matter most to us – or at least a church that never challenges us on such matters. We worship alongside those who believe and look a great deal like we do.
If an uncomfortable sermon is preached, I can walk away. When a rogue article is published, I can unsubscribe. If I disagree with the news anchor, I can change the channel. If a “friend” upsets me, just “hide” her words or delete the relationship entirely.
The courtrooms we’ve constructed aren’t designed for listening to others, but for hearing an echo of ourselves. So, our judgments are prone to be unwise and unfair and the ramifications are troubling.
Without audi alteram partem, learning is stifled, maturity is stunted, empathy is extinguished, dialogue is silenced, peace can’t be made and e pluribus unum is an impossibility.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO LISTEN
The solution is simple but not easy.
We must seek out and listen to viewpoints that differ from our own. This is especially necessary in times of conflict. And there is likely no greater conflict in America today than that over race.
When police shot an unarmed black man, when police were killed at a protest in Dallas, when riots broke out in Milwaukee and Baltimore, when a football player sat through the national anthem…did your friends, your family, your neighbors all say basically the same things about it? The same things you were thinking too?
Today, I’m inviting you to listen to another side of the race conversation in America. His name is Propaganda. He’s a Christian rapper and poet who has challenged me personally. I’ve posted a few videos below on race that he participated in. But before you start watching…
5 WAYS TO LISTEN
Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your listening:
- Listen humbly. Believe that you don’t know everything already and that everyone God made could teach you something.
- Listen attentively. If your emotions and thoughts flood in making listening difficult, press pause until you’re able to focus on his emotions and thoughts once again.
- Listen passively. Resist the temptation to make up your mind, to decide if he’s right or wrong, to form a response while you listen. That can come later.
- Listen gratefully. Be grateful for the opportunity to hear a perspective other than your own and for someone brave enough to express it.
- Listen expectantly. Ask God to speak to you, to use this experience to make you more like the man or woman God wants you to be.
Thank you for listening.
20 Years by Propaganda – 6:04
Racial Justice Conversation Part 1 – 10:21
Racial Justice Conversation Part 2 – 5:47
Racial Justice Conversation Part 3 (Panel discussion) – 36:21
Racial Justice Conversation Part 4 – 4:44