Our Hearing Problem


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Judge Alito's wife breaks down when the hearings turn into personal attacks.

Judge Samuel Alito spent most of this week in confirmation hearings with the U.S. Senate. Though Democrats asked many questions, very few seemed to actually “hear” the nominee’s answers.

Senator Ted Kennedy appeared to have very little interest in allowing the judge to share his heart on important judicial issues. Instead, the Massachusetts politician worked very hard to smear the president’s selection for the Supreme Court. He and a few others, like New York’s Charles Schumer, acted as if the hearings were actually their chance to be heard by their ideological and financial supporters.

I doubt that either Senator has the slightest idea of who Judge Alito is as a person, despite their face-to-face conversations. Like far too many people, especially those in positions of power, they do not listen. They speak, but they do not hear. To them, listening is simply the part of the conversation in which they ponder what to say next.

This breakdown in simple communication prevents peace and progress, wherever it is found, because it undermines trust. Without trust, people cannot work together. Whether it occurs in “talks” between Jews and Arabs, Republicans and Democrats, or even husband and wife, two parties cannot come together without some level of trust.

Trust only comes when we learn to hear each other’s heart. It has been said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we would listen twice as much as we talk. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear…”

But we live in a world of deaf people. They have ears, but do not know how to listen. Because of this, they resort to prejudicially labeling people. “He’s a right-winger.” “She’s a feminist.” “That reporter’s a part of the liberal media.” “Bush hates black people.”

There is no trust. There is only ignorance, bigotry and animosity.

Once these labels are out, people’s minds are closed and their ears are shut. Subsequent dialogue results in exactly what we have witnessed this week in Washington, D.C. People ask questions, others answer, and nobody hears. Private agendas are served; the public is not.

If people can learn to listen, then they can hear their enemy’s heart. In most cases, this will build bridges toward understanding and lead to greater cooperation for the common good. In some cases, however, hearing can lead to a terrifying understanding of the evil that controls an individual. I have heard the heart of people such as bin Laden and al-Zarqawi, which is why I understand the importance of defeating their ideas and destroying their plans. But in most cases, as in our Senate, understanding the heart of another will develop trust and respect for that person, despite ideological differences.

Trust and respect break down barriers and enable progress. Without them, we cannot reach the full potential of our family, our community, our country or our world. Let’s all make an effort to open our ears to those around us so that we can learn, understand and truly hear.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 505

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.



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