I learned a lot about people when I recently attended a comedy presentation – yep, a comedy presentation.

I learned how neat, tidy boxes of beliefs around absolute belief systems are challenged by the comedian who holds nothing sacred.  Everything and anything was open for discussion that night at the comedy club.  It’s like Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, where Feste the jester is described as “wise enough to play the fool”.

At points during the comedy routine, I thought about leaving – but I stayed. I listened. I observed. Some people left the room, some heckled back, some laughed.

The comic simply said, “I will tell the joke. There will be a story, a punch line and a response from you – the audience.” And sure enough, he related a story, delivered a punch line and the audience responded. The content was wide open – nothing was sacred in his arsenal of joke telling: religion, politics, life, death, LGBT, music …

People react when someone enters into their “space”. Sometimes the reaction is quick – even before understanding the facts.   Religion, Race, Political Party, LGBT, Music ….  These topics can be lightening rods for diametrically opposed views and rooted beliefs.

Statements that represent strong opinions like “I hate rap and hip hop!”  or “No Mexicans/LGBT’s/Muslims/Syrians allowed!” need to be examined carefully.

Listen and seek to understand before reacting. By doing so, some of our own long held belief systems and opinions can be challenged. Beliefs that are rooted in limited understandings fall away when we really listen.

The world would be a better place … if we listen first.

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