Listen To The Person More Than The Message

We may disagree, but, if we can do so intelligently and compassionately, there is room for you in my life.

Artwork by Ana

Not everyone who disagrees with us is against us. In fact, some people actually disagree with us because they care about us and want to see us learn, grow, and open ourselves up to a new way of thinking so that we have fuller, richer lives. As long as we have surrounded ourselves with honest, caring, forward-thinking individuals, we should listen to what they have to say, even if it is in direct opposition with what we have believed up to that point.

If we love or, at the very least, respect another person and he or she disagrees with us on some important issue, we owe it to ourselves to hear them out. They may not change our minds, but the more we can learn to see the world though other peoples’ eyes, the more effective we become in our own lives. If empathy is a superpower, compassionate observation is the way we earn it.

If we can learn to listen to what is beneath the words and imagine the hopes, fears, and history that has led to this moment and this belief, we can better understand the messenger and where they are coming from. Through this, we can also better understand ourselves, and why we believe the things that we believe. By listening to the person more than the message itself, we will find that we are all a lot more similar than our beliefs, prejudices, and opinions would allow us to believe.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted.

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