Emotional Intelligence | Main page on listening


Listening and American Politics
The 2008 Elections


This is a video clip of presidential candidate Ron Paul. He suggests that Americans listen to their adversaries, those who are commonly called "the terrorists". My comments are below.




My personal commentary on this

This is what I would call a more emotionally intelligent course of action than invading Afghanistan and Iraq, creating the Department of Homeland Security, passing the Military Commissions Act, taking away personal freedoms from Americans, and torturing prisoners (definitely not the ideal form of listening). Since September of 2001 I have been advocating that Americans do exactly what he suggests: listen to the people who planned the attacks. Help them feel heard, understood, taken seriously. Also, help them feel safe to express themselves with words. I believe that if the government had done this all along, there would never have been any deaths in the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001.

During the debate from which this clip was taken, the former mayor of New York city, Rudulf Giuliani, said that the idea that the Americans might be partially responsible for the attack because of US actions in the Middle East (See note)

was an "extraordinary" idea. He said "I don't think I have ever heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations.for September 11th." People in the audience then clapped. (Longer video of the debate edited by Ron Paul's campaign. This part starts to develop around around the 4:25 seconds stage in the video)

To me, this shows how little many Americans actually do understand what happened and why. It also shows they would prefer to believe others are completely responsible rather than to listen to something they might not want to hear. But this debate shows the actual life and death importance of listening. After hearing what Paul said it strengthens my conviction that if more political leaders would follow his example, many American lives, as well as foreign lives, could be saved. Unless we listen to all parties in a conflict, and all parties are given a chance to be heard, we will never understand cause and effect relationships on these emotional issues. And without understanding the cause and effect relationships, we will never find a lasting solution.

S. Hein
Istanbul, Turkey
November 26, 2007


See conflict resolution model


Note about US responsibility

Earlier in the debate Paul mentioned some of the reasons he believed motivated those who planned and carried out the actions on Sept 11. Paul mentioned the fact that the Americans had been bombing Iraq for ten years, had military bases in Saudia Arabia and had led sanctions against Iraq which contributed to the deaths of many thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Beyond this there is American's support of Israel. In my own travels, talking to many non-Americans, I can report that the general consensus is that the Americans seem to be most interested in the oil of the Middle East and less interested in the ideals of freedom and democracy than they claim to be. Examples are frequently cited of other countries in which gross injustices and abuses have taken place, but in which there is no oil, and which receive little or no help from the US. This gives an image of hypocrisy to many people in the world, something which understandably would add to resentment. All of these are quite obvious reasons why someone would be motivated to do what they did on 9/11. For a politician to be surprised (or claim to be) when someone suggests that the Americans themselves might be partially to blame, seems to show that, at the very least, that person hasn't been listening with an open mind. As far as elections go, the Americans will have to decide if they want politicians like that to be their leader.