I was enjoying a classic Ramones song today with a strikingly simple and powerful chorus. It said:
Learn to listen; listen to learn
You gotta learn to listen before you get burned.
I found the song’s message particularly apt in the wake of yet another wave of violence in our country and around the world. This wave did not magically appear. The current uproar was not the result of an isolated incident. This wave of violence rode in on a riptide raised by centuries of fear, separateness and even hate.
Experienced swimmers know the only way to escape an overwhelming current is to acknowledge it, recognize if for what it is, and the force with which it can carry you away. Ignore it and you will be swallowed whole. Fight it by thrashing about and you’ll exhaust your resources and be swallowed whole.
Denying the current helps no one. Acknowledging the power of the current, we must calm ourselves, resisting the urge to panic. Then, the experienced swimmer will strike out parallel to the current but with a different agenda. We challenge it’s seemingly overwhelming force with persistence and grace under pressure; informed by knowledge and committed to moving forward in spite of fear, pain, and hardship. As Dory says, “Just…Keep…Swimming…” (Anyone else convinced she has ADHD?)
At this moment, each of us is asked to do just that. The difference is, a riptide has come through, and we can’t keep swimming the same direction we always have. If you’re asking yourself, “How do I, how do we, survive this current? How do I help? Where do we go from here?” Start with acknowledgement. And then… listen. Learn to listen. Listen to learn.
After all, as adults with ADHD, it’s what we ask of others. We must also demand it of ourselves.
Please join us in embracing diversity by listening to perspectives different from your own, offering support and compassion to those who are grieving, challenging those who perpetuate discrimination, and choosing – in whatever way you can – to live in hope and connection instead of fear and isolation.
And, always, believe in yourself. And each other.