People Don’t Listen Enough

Listening in on TEDxUWO live stream today, I was able to listen to Chris Bentley speak on some of the issues facing First Nations today in Canada.

I was very happy that he was able to speak about this, yet disappointed to read some of the comments coming in under the livestream feed. One comment had said:

We are still blaming residential school policies? That was years ago.

What some people don’t understand is that the problems that were created because of Residential schools, are inter-generational. What does that mean? That means they are passed down from one generation to the next. What does this mean for young people? They have nobody telling them, what is happening to you, is not your fault.

Just recently, I started to get help for some of the things that I experienced in my life. Some of these things made me angry for a long time. I didn’t know how to handle this anger and I didn’t know why I was angry. I remember one of the things my mom told me growing up was, “Depression is unresolved anger.”

The first time I tried to commit suicide, I remember the doctor asking, “What’s wrong? What happened?” I told him, “I am angry. I don’t know what to do.” I know one thing for sure is that I never really wanted to actually die, I just wanted to escape my pain. I was angry because I was hurt, and I didn’t know how to deal with it.

This doctor didn’t listen to me. He just said, “You can’t be angry. People who are angry, don’t do what you did. You must be sad.”

I was even more angry. I couldn’t channel this anger anywhere but further inside me. I was angry because nobody was listening to me. Everyone around me kept telling me what was wrong with me, how I should be feeling, and what I was thinking. I just wished the people I was talking to actually listened to what I was saying.

I believe that people don’t listen enough. Everyone keeps talking about what needs to be done, what has to happen, but nobody listens to the people that they want to help. If you want real change to happen: Listen to what those people are saying. If you want to really help someone today, listen to what they are telling you. There can be a lot more done when you listen. Wanting to be part of change, involves listening to those you want to help.

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2 comments

  1. In response to Chris Bentley's comment; many years ago, a lot of students wrote papers and presented either in class or in environments where there people (from residential schools as well) who were listenting; there was one elder, who I will never forget who is now long gone and another who is alive and a family member spoke and both of them, their words resonated with me….after someone, a student presented her paper on the atrocities of residential school, the first Elder got up and spoke and said to the effect, that yes, it was horrible for some (many if you were brown skinned with black hair) of those children in residential schools, but that one could never speak to it as well as someone who had experienced it; she thanked the student for her paper but that she wasn't there, that a lot of people who spoke on the residential school and its effects were not there and that to understand it better you would have to know and live it, to be in that system back then. The second elder who spoke said, similar the same thing, but she also added, the school taught her to read, write and know arithmetic, plus not only that it taught her patience using the example of 'standing in line waiting for cold hard porridge' that she is now able to stand patiently in grocery stores waiting at the cashier (that was meant for humour) and in addition it taught her how to sew, to mend her clothes so that she didn't have to go out and spend frivolously as so many do now. I thanked these two women for their knowledge. I'm not coming down on Mr. Bentley's remarks, but only that we give credit where credit is due and I have not heard his comments I am merely adding to his knowledge.

  2. Thank you for sharing your comment. I write about another experience as a volunteer at a residential school gathering here: http://www.kwetoday.com/2011/03/residential-school-children.html. I remember elders sharing stories that made the smile and remember the good times that they shared under not so great circumstances. Respecting all stories is a step forward for greater understanding of the history of Indigenous people. Yet, is not to assume that young people today could have not experienced the residential school as the last one shut down in 1996 which is not too long ago. Sharing all stories are essential to understanding the issue fully and wholeheartedly. Once again, thank you for your comment! It is greatly appreciated.

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