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Monday, July 14, 2014

Stop Shouting Already!

Lessons Learned


In a world that shouts, incessantly argues, and demands to be right and first and best and every other superlative seemingly worthy of claiming, I believe it might be a good time to step out of the fray, to willingly wait, to patiently listen, to calmly respond, to humbly serve, and to be secure enough to be gentle. The bombastic, super aggressive personality and approach to life and living is truly obnoxious at best and hate-stirring, blood pressure elevating and ineffective to boot. Why do we so unreservedly choose such immature and non-productive behavior? Why? Do we erroneously assume that this unflattering and out-of-control behavior is a suitable MO for communication? Can we not hear our own anger and frustration in this attack-ish tone? Can we not see the combative response this evokes in others? Why not try gentleness. It feels so much better. Gentleness quiets the heart and stills the soul. Gentleness beckons cooperation, collaboration, and a lovely esprit de corps. Gentleness invites the building of a bridge and risks the extending of a hand to lend support and hope. Gentleness heals. Gentleness is as a balm to another’s wounded spirit.  But, despite our intellectual understanding of the merits of gentleness, the world still shouts and we, in our knee jerk reaction, shout back. At every age there’s shouting. Recently I noticed just how much cartoons shout at our children; they will undoubtedly live what they learn. We shout our frustrated and hurried “good byes and have a good days” to our little ones as they collect yet another tardy slip at the door, thus beginning their days in disappointment and despair. Families shout because being right takes priority to being loving. Spectators at sporting events shout at referees because a public temper tantrum is an impressive way to support one’s team. Coaches, directors, and teachers shout because the number of decibels of vocal volume is directly proportional to the desire of the athletes, cast members, or students to obey.  Shouting is apparently power.  Power, who doesn’t want it? Kids shout at parents, siblings, teachers, etc. etc. etc. because everyone else is shouting.  They have been well taught.  We don’t shout at our home, not because we are some sort of wallflower, mousey type of family, but rather because shouting hurts feelings, and it definitely hurts ears. If a student shouts at me, which hasn’t happened much in my thirty years of teaching, I speak calmly and gently back. We need to breathe. We need to relax. We need to count to ten, take a walk, or listen for a minute to our own precious heartbeat. Life is a great gift and gentleness is a way of handling life with honor, grace and respect. Choose this day to be gentle and then reap the wonderful rewards of the peace and joy this brings.