As I got to thinking more about censorship, and the actual core as to why it is happening on all sides of the aisle, I believe the real solution is compassionate deep listening. I first heard about this concept from the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
“Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of the other person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose, to help him or her empty his heart. And if you remember that you are helping him or her to suffer less, and then even if he says things full of wrong perceptions and bitterness, you are still capable to continue to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, with compassion, you give him or her a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him or her correct his perception, you must wait for another time. For the time being, you just listen with compassion and help him or her to suffer less. And one hour like that can bring transformation and healing.
The fear, the anger, the despair is born on the ground of wrong perception. We have wrong perceptions concerning ourselves and the other person, and that is the foundation for conflict, war, and violence.
We should be able to say like this: dear friends, dear people, I know that you suffer a lot. I have not understood enough of your difficulties and suffering. It’s not our intention to make you suffer more. It is the opposite. So please tell us about your suffering, your difficulties. I’m eager to learn and to understand. Dialog has to start like that, loving speech. And if you are honest, if you are true, they will open their heart and tell us. And then we practice deep, compassionate listening. And during the process of deep listening, we can learn so much about our own perception, and their perceptions. And that is the best way, the only way, to remove terrorism.
Anger is energy which people use in order to act, but when you are angry you are not lucid. And you might do wrong things. That is why compassion is a better energy. And the energy of compassion is very strong.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk
The most heated topics involve a great deal of suffering, on all sides of the debate. That’s what fuels the hatred, anger, and the deep sense of injustice within. People have to be willing to put aside their differences, respect one another, and enter this compassionate dialog, listening to one another, and learning how each side sees the other. Then when everyone understands one another’s point of view, has seen the genuine effort from the other side, and understands the suffering involved, it is much easier to make the proper course corrections.
Arguing over one another on social media, getting into some censorship contest, trying to silence your enemies, it isn’t going to accomplish much. I believe it will only make people more angry; those involved will feel that nobody is listening, that the other sides do not care.