Liberty Fur All

Shen Yun and the Lost Art of Listening

On Sunday I had the wonderful experience of seeing Shen Yun perform in Cleveland for the second time. Dancers take to the stage to perform a variety of traditional Chinese dance styles, along with some story telling, set to the music of a live orchestra. The dancers are very skilled, the choreography is excellent, there’s serious and humorous acts, and the music is a fantastic mixture of Eastern and Western musical styles. If you have the chance to see them perform (there’s currently five troupes travelling the world), I highly recommend that you go.

More on them in a moment.

I arrived at the State Theater, with my father, almost a full hour early. He knows someone who owns a shop in the building and we stopped by to say hello. I don’t want to embarrass this person or have him be harassed, so for now we’ll call him Peter.

Peter, like many people who live in the city, leans politically to the left. That’s fine. Within the first few sentences he was talking at me about how terrible everything is in America. I was told how Donald Trump is a racist person, how the temporary travel ban was just going to make everyone upset, and how he, Peter, loves people of color – after all, he rides the bus to work with his “black brothers and sisters.”

Peter also informed me that he’s very up to date on all of the news, and that the New York Times and NBC are the least biased news organizations in the world. Fox News is the most biased of them all, a fact delivered to me with condescension. Peter, it seems, knows everything about the world, including me.

I was how I, being from a rural area, obviously voted for Trump (I didn’t, I voted for Egg McMuffin), how I don’t know any people of color because they don’t live near me (they do, there’s a significant Mexican population where I live, and I work with people from India, Russia, China and other countries every day), how I just don’t appreciate other cultures (surprising, since I was there to see Shen Yun), and how closed minded I am (amazing, since I’m the one listening and he’s doing all the talking).

Notice how I said he talked at me? That’s exactly what he did. He didn’t talk to me. He talked at me. He certainly didn’t want to hear anything that I had to say – even when I agreed with him that Stephen Bannon is probably a bad person. I tried to find some common ground and I told him, “I don’t think you’re a bad person. You’re a nice guy, we both are, we just disagree on some political things.”

But even that he didn’t want to hear – he would interrupt and talk over me in an attempt to get his points across. The communication was completely one sided because he simply was not interested, at all, in hearing what someone else had to say. A different view, it seemed, or even a kind word from someone he knows nothing about – even though he certainly thought he did – was simply incompatible with his own personal reality bubble.

Although I spent the majority of the time listening in the beginning of the “conversation”, eventually that is all I did. Obviously Peter wasn’t interested in anything else, so why even try? Any attempt at all to make it a conversation instead of a soliloquy were rudely and immediately interrupted.

Mercifully the start time of the show came around so we left and my father felt rather embarrassed about the whole thing. Neither one of us is going to stop by in the future to say hello. Who wants to deal with that kind of a situation?

Now back to Shen Yun and their performance: This organization performs all over the world – except in China. Several parts of the performance are overtly political, using dance and music to show how the Chinese government persecutes practitioners of Falun Dafa. Many communist  and socialist regimes are well known for their hostility towards spirituality in any form. China is but one example.

Authoritarian regimes cannot tolerate any challenges to their power; they will attempt to destroy, and if not destroy, then discredit, any institution that offers people a different set of ideals, or values, or a concept of any power higher than the government. Unable to compete in the arena of ideas, instead of being able to use facts and truth, China would rather use arrests, re-education camps, censorship, and other means to ensure that the government, and only the government, is the final arbiter in all things – not just morality, but reality itself.

They want communication to be one way: from them to you. They don’t want to listen; all they want to do is speak. They don’t want you to even question; they just want you to obey. They want you to walk in lock-step with them and repeat every word they utter.

Just like Peter.

I’m not suggesting that Peter would like to march people off to re-education camps (although, given how I was treated, I wouldn’t be surprised), but the attitude and the communication style are exactly the same. Authoritarian. Zero room for other opinions. If you don’t agree, then you are the enemy. The political left in this country has become everything they claim to be against.

Don’t believe me? Look no further than Berkeley. People on the left are rioting, burning things down, breaking into stores, and not just threatening physical violence but actually attacking people who have a different opinion. What about inauguration day? Remember the riots so violent that Trump had to cancel a rally?

The left does not want you to speak. They do not want you to be heard. They hate you, and in their hate, they have become exactly what they claim they want to stop. For them, the authoritarian is right there in the mirror.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *