We All Scream for Ice Cream

Written By Fr. Mark Tracy

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … As a young kid, I loved summertime. Summer was the time of ultimate freedom to ride bikes all day around town, play pick-up sports, eat junk food, and go to Tastee Treet for ice cream. It is safe to say that this summer has been one like no other. There has been a lot of screaming lately, but not for ice cream. There has been screaming and debating all over news channels, social media, and perhaps at social gatherings and the dinner table. Everybody seems to have an opinion on COVID-19 and all the related economic, social, and political decisions. And that is all good and just. It is part of our nation’s fabric that everybody is entitled to an opinion and able to voice it.

But amid all the opinion sharing and heated debates and even screaming, do we actually listen to each other? Do we try and understand the other person’s point of view before responding? Or do we ignore them and scream? Or do we simply listen only to destroy their argument? I would argue that this time of COVID-19 has revealed that as a culture, we have lost the art of dialogue and conversation. It seems to me during this interesting time we live in that our conversations have turned into debates instead of dialogues, the difference being the competitive nature of debates. Which are needed in certain forums, but in regular social gatherings, social media, etc., they are not needed. In these platforms and gatherings, these major decisions are not usually made. Usually, it is just people sharing their points of view.

When was the last time that you talked with someone who disagreed with you politically?  We, perhaps as a culture during this time, need to rediscover the art of conversation and dialogue. Maybe instead of listening to someone in a competitive sense, we listen to understand the person and ask questions even if we disagree. Then we can respond with our points in a non-competitive and attacking way. They will perhaps raise points that we never thought of, and hopefully, we raise points that they have never considered. Will we win them to our side? Who knows, that is not the point in a dialogue. The point is to treat them as a human person and not a punching bag. And then who knows maybe grabbing a bite to eat with them or even some ice cream.