Are You Listening?

by

Fourteen princesses ride into the East
Questions and adventure their spiritual beast
They ride the waves on steeds of the sea
Broad-winged, strong, formidable company
They make it to the shore of a beautiful place
Greeted by princesses of a different race
Unhesitant in generously welcoming
They showcase their culture’s intricacy
Open arms, open palms
The groups exchange love, ideas, qualms
About gender, imagination, nationalistic ties
Typically preyed on by societies telling uneducated lies.
Tea is ordered, songs are sung
Community, laughter, and friendship hung
Across the room, declaring mirth
Acceptance and living given new worth
The princesses of the East henna and hug
The princesses of the West learn and tug
The newly gathered truth unvarnished by fibs
Rawly ingrained in the place between their ribs
Armored in henna, they try to cross back
With hopes of finding listening ears forgoing attack.

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I have found empowerment and enlightenment on this trip through the various dialogue exchanged between our new Moroccan friends and us.  In conjunction with varying responses to social issues pressing the states for radical change, as a person of a privileged race I’m constantly reminded there is power in listening. The form of reconciliation often forgotten amidst the need to do something, anything, is simply being present and acknowledging another’s life experiences as valid and true.  We as a group, through the classes we registered for on this trip, were given the opportunity to delve into narratives of the unheard, to read stories speaking of forgotten truths, to understand perspectives erased and dehumanized in our democratic society.  Navigating the presented written word and spoken stories forced us to educate ourselves on misperceptions and stereotypes demanding to be rejected, gave us the opportunity to slow down and hear the pain being shared by a society wronged, and taught us in our quest for reconciliation a role more need to adopt, a role we need to adopt in order to be effective peace-makers, the role of the listener. How powerful, how beautiful, how effective listening to the cries of those sharing our world can be.  Are you listening?

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