An act of Presence

In times of darkness, where uncertainty and turmoil seem to cloud our collective horizon, listening emerges not just as a practical skill but as a profound philosophical stance, embodying hope, light, and the possibility of transformation.

At its core, listening is an act of presence and receptivity. It represents a fundamental openness to the world and others. In listening, we step outside our egos and enter a space of empathy and the best possible understanding. This is not passive but an active, intentional embrace of the Other.

In an era marked by noise, distraction, and relentless self-expression, choosing to listen becomes a form of resistance. It counters the prevailing narratives of self-absorption and divisiveness. By listening, we rebel against the superficiality of surface-level interactions and dare to engage with the depth and complexity of human experience.

Listening, for me, is deeply ethical. It acknowledges the intrinsic value of Others and their experiences. It recognizes the ‘Other’ as a subject, not an object, as a being with their thoughts, feelings, and inherent worth. This recognition is the foundation of ethical behavior and social justice.

Listening has the power to transform. It can change hearts and minds, bridge divides, and foster reconciliation. In genuinely hearing someone, we allow for the possibility of change—both in the speaker and in ourselves. This is where authentic dialogue and meaningful connections occur.

Listening also means embracing uncertainty and the unknown. It is an acknowledgment of the limits of our knowledge and an openness to humanity’s vast and varied experiences.

Listening can be a beacon of hope in dark times, offering light not through grand gestures but through the quiet, consistent act of turning toward each other with openness and empathy.

As we navigate these challenging times, let us remember that the power to connect and transform our world lies in listening.

Art: Myungja Anna Koh