Don Carlson: Difference between listening and hearing
“There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”
“For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems (for example, gun violence) without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.” This formal social observation by Alvin Toffler is personalized in lay terms by John Wayne’s “You’re short on ears and long on mouth.”
At least four iGeneration students, David Hogg, Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky and Chris Grady, born in the year 2000 or later, attending Parkland, Florida’s, Marjory Stoneham Douglas High, have concluded — enough is enough. Their Never Again Movement is a classic model of Smelser’s collective behavior explanation. Neil Smelser, a world recognized sociologist, provided a clarifying insight as to why and how collective behavior results in social movements.
Applying Smelser’s thesis, the iGeneration is civically aware about the right to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievance. (Admittedly, self-governing societies are far more subject to collective behavior than authoritarian structures).
The injustice of being an increasingly probable victim of mass murder while attending school. In their view policy decision-makers aren’t able or not willing to effectively reduce this most obvious threat.
This iGeneration sense of injustice as well as their repeated observation of leaders’ incompetence or unwillingness is ever-growing, and broadly-based as well as conventionally understood by more and more and yet, more people. In short, the iGeneration belief is now a generalized societal belief.
The Stoneham Douglas High shooting was the precipitating factor igniting the flame which has resulted in the call, by Hogg, Gonzalez, Kasky and Grady, et al, to mobilize.
These iGeneration students, so thoroughly skilled in social media, are utilizing their learned asset as the most efficient and effective resource tool to nationally mobilize — calling for the collective action (“March for Our Lives”) on March 24, in Washington, D.C. It won’t be surprising if the iGeneration turnout overwhelms many of those incompetent and/or unwilling “long on mouth” leaders.
The anticipated response by too many of the elected leadership will be to control, to dominate, to listen — but not to hear. Being held accountable for action or inaction, the heart of self-governance, is so bothersome and so threatening for far too many elected decision-makers. Sadly, this could very well be a major lesson learned by the iGeneration.
Equally important is the critically timed issue framed by this iGeneration, Never Again Movement: Kids v guns. Which is primary? Which is secondary?
This is the opportunity for us to observe and measure our ability or inability to meaningfully self-govern.
Don Carlson resides in Carson City.