The limits of the Listen First ideal as it relates to violence & racism

The Listen First Pledge is to fully listen to and consider another's views before sharing your own, to prioritize respect and understanding in conversation, and to encourage others to do the same.

The most challenging question with which I'm often confronted: Is there ever a point where Listen First doesn't apply, when we shouldn't listen first? This question has come up again in the aftermath of the tragedy in Charlottesville.

Physical violence is a non-subjective line across which you have voided the privilege of a Listen First response. But it's not the only one. Abject racism also crosses this line.

We throw around charges of "racism" and "hate" with reckless abandon at people who hold different views than our own. Those words have lost concrete meaning in our overheated, uncivil discourse. But they are real, and they tragically still exist. Certainly not everyone involved in a discussion or protest related to race is a racist but sadly some are.

Believing another person is less human or less valued due to the color of their skin is racist. While I would like to gain understanding of that perspective in order to move beyond racism and heal our land, I need not respect or normalize the belief. It is not ok. The United States of America has no place for racism.

Listen First is about improving humanity by restoring civil discourse. We cannot improve humanity if we attack the humanity of our fellow Americans or anyone else.  -Pearce Godwin