Free Listening is Weird!

Three times now, I've gone to Boston Common with a small group of people to hold Free Listening signs and talk to people who want to talk. Inspired by the Urban Confessional Free Listening Project, I see this as a fun, easy way to offer loving attention to people, be reminded of our shared humanity, and appreciate our differences.

At one of these listening sessions, a reporter from NBC Boston asked to interview us, and created this this short article and video about what we were doing. It got posted twice on the NBC Boston Facebook page (on July 11 and July 14), and generated a ton of comments.

A lot of people were inspired by the idea, but I was struck by how many people thought it was weird, laughable, and even contemptible. 

I would actually love to talk to those people. I wonder if they could help me find better ways to have the kind of impact I want to have.

I would tell them something like this:

What I want is to live in a world where people are good to each other, and listen to each other, and are not so afraid and suspicious of each other.

I know I'm not alone in wanting that. When I ask people what kind of changes they would like to see in the world, those kind of things nearly always top the list: more compassion, more empathy, more community. You probably want those things in your own life, too. But how do we get there?

I understand that free listening is weird. It's also time-consuming and, on its own, probably limited in impact. But our human relationships matter to me, and I want to do something. If you can think of a better way to use my time and skills to inspire people care for one another, I would love to hear it.

What about you? Do you have ideas for me? If so, please pass them on.