For quite a few years, something called a “Silent Disco” has been gaining popularity. It’s a party at which there are several DJs playing different music, and all of the guests wear headphones, each with the ability to individually control the source of the sound that emanates from them. So if you want to listen to the ‘blue’ DJ’s set, you turn your headphones to the ‘blue’ channel. And you can look around the space and see at a glance (via the colored lights) who and how many other people are tuned in to the same station as you. If you remove your headphones, the room is completely silent.
Life is like this, except I think it’s much harder to change the channel.
We go through life filtering all of our reality through the music that’s playing on the channel we’ve chosen, hearing our own perspective. I am an able-bodied, white, cis-gendered female American. I grew up in a large, liberal city. I am privileged in many ways, and the music that plays through my headphones reflects this. I cannot help but experience the world through the soundtrack of my own reality.
What if we could just change the channel, and experience life through the headphones of that homeless man on the corner who wants desperately for someone to offer him a job? That Muslim child who walks down the halls at school, ignoring the whispers of her peers behind her back? That member of the Westboro Baptist Church who is so in fear for his own soul that he feels the need to inflict emotional pain on others to get them to conform to what he believes will “save” us all? That black woman who cannot sleep because she fears for the safety of her son when he leaves the house at night? The neighbor who proudly flies a confederate flag because he deeply believes that if rights are afforded to others, they are taken away from him? The gay teenager who, suddenly, is filled with fear and regret at his decision to come out?
How would our relationships change if we could only hear their music?
I want to be open to listening to the world through someone else’s headphones. So that when I listen to that same someone else speak, it is with an ear toward truly understanding them. Toward hearing foremost the humanity behind their words. I want to be able to change the channel, so that my ability to empathize may be wholly nurtured.
I want the score of my life to be infused with the vibrancy of a thousand musical genres, so that I may always hear what you are saying, based on who you are. I want to be able to dance with you to the beat of our common humanity.