Importance of Listening


Barry Hart

Eastern Mennonite University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Of course there are people that just have the natural gift of just being with other people and are able to draw others out. Again, contextually and culturally maybe you don't talk, maybe you just sit with them and weep. Or maybe you just sit with them and say I am ready to talk when you are, and of course you would do that in many situations. In some situations, culturally you are not going to talk about it so then how do you deal with that? How do you unpeel that onion, those layers of protection, of saving face? How is it that you find in those societies ways and rituals or ceremonies or understanding or does it need to be acknowledged that in those societies the quietness and keeping within is some kind of healing because talking about it would be disastrous, contextually.

But my sense, even from being there and talking with people from Asia for example, I haven't worked there very much, is how can they find constructive ways to maybe train people about what trauma is and what it does and then again let them say in their setting how they might be able to deal with this. Dealing with it might be the remaining quiet, but it might put it in a context or in a ceremony that allows some integration for that trauma. Recognition of that pain is important. There are universal qualities about being traumatized. Although there are many societies that don't have the word trauma but again they have the symptoms. They know that they are angry or they know that they feel bad or they can't concentrate or they know that there is a hyper-arousal or vigilance and the whole range cognitively, emotionally physically. They understand that, so how do you help them understand that these reactions are normal reactions to these very abnormal situations? And from their context what do they think that they can do about it? What has been done in the past? What new things contextually can occur?