By Aaron Talley
In this era of deep political polarization and the seclusion offered by social media, one of the biggest hindrances to social change is that we view listening to each other as negotiable. Fearing conflict and misunderstanding, we do not listen to each other because we falsely believe that we always have the option of retreating. In essence, we believe that it is always possible to run away from the enemy, because the enemy is different from our individual self. Yet, though retreating is sometimes necessary, this is the moment where love becomes powerful. Primarily because love propels us to listen to each other despite our differing realities. Activating love gives us the courage to see ourselves in each other. Accordingly, we can no longer run from each other. We can look at the enemy and say, “I cannot separate myself from you–I am inextricably tied in your passions, your dreams, your future, and your oppression.” Subsequently, once we realize that what’s at stake is “our” humanity, love allows the “you and me” to become “us,” and, we can begin to connect to one another more deeply.
Aaron Talley is an activist, writer, educator, and blogger for the Black Youth Project. He is also a member of the youth-led activist organization the Black Youth Project 100. He is currently a graduate student in the University of Chicago’s Urban Teacher Education Program and works with youth on the South Side of Chicago. He is from Detroit, Michigan. You can follow him on Twitter @Talley_Marked