🔊 How to listen to each other – for George Floyd

In protests, people are expressing sadness at unfairness; Alastair & Clarisse look at how others are listening and why it can be example for us in everyday life.

Transcript podcast – June 19, 2020

A – Hello and welcome to WoW!, the positive podcast! Showing kids that there’s a lot more to the world news than bad news.

I’m Alastair. As a journalist, I’ve often written about things going wrong. But people also need to know too about what’s going right, to know that we can change the world for the better.

This week, I’ll be talking to Clarisse about the demonstrations that have spread from America across the world – and about how they can tell us all something important.

I hope the podcast gives you some ideas too – and maybe a bit of a boost. If you like it, do share it with a friend!


C – Hello Alastair. What have you been doing this week?

A – Hi Clarisse. Well, I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking about what’s in the news – and about how the big news at the moment can tell us something about the little things that happen to us all from time to time?

C – Hm. You mean the big news about the protests and demonstrations?

A – That’s right, Clarisse. Those big marches in America and now in other countries. They’re angry and sad about things being unfair. That’s why it’s interesting to wonder if we can learn things for our own lives – because we all get angry and sad from time to time, don’t we, when something happens to us that isn’t fair.

C – Hm, OK, Alastair. But these demonstrations started in America because black people or African Americans, were complaining about police in America. What does that have to do with me or our listeners?

A – Well let’s take a look at what has happened, shall we? Police in America arrested an ordinary man called George Floyd. A policeman sat on him for so long that he couldn’t breathe. People filmed what happened. Millions of people went into the streets to protest. The policeman was put in prison. But the protests got bigger and bigger. Why? Well, this was about more than just one policeman and George Floyd. George Floyd had “black” skin. The policeman had “white” skin. So this was about how people think the American police – and lots of other things in America – are not fair to black people. People in Europe and elsewhere started marching too to complain about “racism” in their own countries. Racism is being unfair to people because of their “race” –basically the colour of their skin (which if you think about it is always an incredibly silly way to make opinions about people). Different things seem most important in different countries. It’s not just about the police. Things are unfair about schools or jobs. Some people want to take down statues in towns of people from history who did horrible things. Others complain, say, about people making jokes that hurt other people’s feelings. It’s all quite complicated. But you asked, what that has do with us, every day. Well, first of all, it’s a good reminder that we all need to be fair to people and especially to realise that we can all be unfair – even when we don’t mean to be.

C – You mean we mustn’t be racist or prejudiced?

A – Yes, Clarisse, that’s one obvious thing. Most of us don’t think we are. But we all still need to respect other people and not make assumptions about them.

C – But there’s another way that the demonstrations say something important for us, even for children?

A – I do Clarisse. Because these protests involve really deep personal feelings for each person. And that’s why they can tell us all something useful about what we do at home, or at school, when our feelings are hurt.

C – OK, Alastair. So what should we do?

A – Ha, well, every person is a bit different. But think of it this way – What’s going on in these protests? People complain that other people are being unfair to them. We can all imagine that can’t we. I once got a really horrible telling off from a teacher at school – for something I didn’t do. And I can tell you that it still hurts.

C – Wow, Alastair, That was a long … Well, shall we say that it wasn’t yesterday!

A – Yes, you’re right, Clarisse. It wasn’t even the day before yesterday! But I can still feel how it was. It just wasn’t fair. I felt angry and sad. Very sad. Now, these things happen to all of us from time to time. Somebody’s nasty to us. Or just some how we miss out on getting a fair turn at something. It hurts. And I think that what is really clear in most of the demonstrations that we’ve seen around the world is that most people are not just angry about what’s not fair, but also deeply hurt and sad.

C – OK, Alastair. So what should we do if someone hurts our feelings? Tell them to stop? Say “Don’t be nasty to me!” ?

A – Hm. What you say sounds normal, doesn’t it? “Stop being mean!” or “You’re horrible – go away!”. People do that every day. But we don’t need to say to the other person that they’re being nasty or horrible, do we? Maybe they don’t mean to be and mostly we really don’t know. Instead, what’s important is to let them know how we feel about what they said or did.

C – Hm. I’m not sure I see the difference.

A – Simple. Instead of saying “stop being mean to me” we can say “what you say makes me feel really sad”. Do you see the difference? You can just say how something makes you feel. You don’t need to criticise the other person. Most people most of the time want to get on with others. They don’t want a fight with you. And so telling them how you feel without criticising them can work really well – a lot better than just getting into an argument that’ll go on and on…

C – OK. I hear you Alastair. But to be honest you’re making me feel a little lost. Because how does this connect to George Floyd?

A – Aha! Now we get to it Clarisse! What I see in so many of these peaceful protests is that people are saying, look, you out there, the majority of people, you say you want everything to be fair to everyone and not hurt anyone’s feelings? That’s the law. And you agree with it. Well, we’re saying that’s great. But our real experience is that a lot of things aren’t fair and our feelings are being hurt. So we’re angry and sad. Right? Some people are then getting into fights. But where the demonstrations are making most difference is where they are calm and peaceful and people are saying we’re sad, please help us change that. And a lot of people are saying ‘We didn’t think we were hurting your feelings or being unfair to you. But if you say so then we absolutely must listen and get together with you to change things.”

C – So it’s important to say how we feel and not to get into a fight?

A – Something like that Clarisse. Have you seen pictures of white people, even policemen, kneeling in front of protesters? It’s called ‘taking a knee’ and it’s a way to show you agree to make things fair, especially for black people. In some places, when white people have ‘taken a knee’, black people protesting have felt so moved to see it that they’ve cried. The same kind of thing can happen in our own lives when someone’s hurt us. What’s happening there is that you’ve said you’re hurt and sad. And someone has said, “I hear you. I’m listening. I’m with you.”

C – Those are really strong words. “I hear you…

A – We all want to be heard. Especially when we feel sad. And that little tip about when someone hurts us – to just say how it makes us feel, not get into a fight about how nasty they are, can really help.

C – Hm. Of course, we need people to listen…

A – Yes, Clarisse. We should all try to find ways to say how we feel. And we all need to listen to each other. If we do that, we really can surprise ourselves. Instead of arguing, we can get together and really have some fun!

C – Thanks, Alastair. It’s time for me to go and call my mother. She’s a great listener. And I’m going to practise my listening, too!

A – Enjoy your call, Clarisse! See you next week!

A – And that’s it from me too, this week. I hope you’ve found it interesting to hear about the demonstrations, about fairness and about ways to get on with each other.

If you have, do share this podcast with a friend. I’m Alastair, and I’ll be back with Clarisse next week. Until then, have a good listen to those close to you – and stay positive!

Alastair editor of WoW!





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