Learning to listen III

By Published On: March 24, 2007Categories: Social movements1 Comment

A bunch of Northern politicians (who sadly have to remain anonymous) arrive to speak with a number of Bolivian social movement representatives. They arrive late, spend less than an hour and then shoot off to another meeting. No doubt they will speak on their return of consulting with civil society. Tick. Done that.

Unfortunately they are not the only ones. Even Northern activists or socially-concerned researchers come here for a whirlwind tour of 10 days and often time in two hours maximum to speak with people. Yet dialogue and real listening takes time especially in Bolivian culture which respects the right of everyone to have their say. But hey there is no time for everyone to speak, my life is busy you know…

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  1. Earl M. March 25, 2007 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Hi Nick!
    I appreciate the fact that you have kept my posts up on your site.Listening III reminds me of when I visited Hopi land. I sat with an old boy who had a bloody rag hanging from his mouth as he had been engaged in a bit of do- it -yourself- dentistry. I was utterly amazed with him. He bore himself with so much dignity and self posession that we conversed as if nothing unusual was taking place outside of the fact of us meeting and talking. He removed the rag. Never once did he make a single reference to his condition, so neither did I. It certainly was obvious he could have written a book on stoicism, as if there was anyone who would want to read one!
    We then sat by the entrance to the town and quietly helped a group of women who were shelling dried peas. Later we were taken to a house where Piki was being prepared as a gift to the mother of the bride, a full years supply, as she would be loosing a household helper, who now would have her own husband and children to look after. These were two of my introductory experiences to the people of the land. I chose that phrase very carefully as, if you look up the origin of the various root words related to the idea “indiginous”, it is really an insult suggesting they are untrustworthy thieves. Please Nick; let us take this out of our vocabulary, along with a whole lot of other cultural biases
    we would be best off to forget!
    ……………………E.

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