I only wanna hear what I wanna hear……REALLY???


By Kenneth Justice

Have you ever met someone who only wants to hear what they want to hear?

I used to think this kind of behavior was mainly relegated to highly religious people who attended borderline cults…….but lately I’m rethinking the subject.

Perhaps I’m wrong but I’ve noticed a trend among a lot of people lately in the Western World in which they are uninterested in hearing anything that disagrees with their world view.

—) They only hang out with like-minded people

—) They only read literature that agrees with their worldview

—) If they are religious, they definitely don’t mingle with people outside of their religious circle

—) They are uninterested in any conversation that might challenge their current views

Hey, I’m not suggesting that we spend our entire lives only listening to people who disagree with us. But I do think it is healthy to engage in conversations with people outside of our little inner circle.

Sure, there are a lot of problems in the world and it may often seem that the problems are so big that there is nothing you or I can do about them; but that is not a good enough excuse to insulate ourselves from other people that we don’t agree with…..it’s not a good enough excuse to insulate ourselves from the ‘outside’.

I’ve spent much of the past week reading the auto-biography of Gandhi and there is a lot to like about the dude; one of the things that stands out the most to me as I read his story is how he intentionally went out of his way to dialogue with other people. He didn’t want to cut himself off from other people and other ideas. He didn’t want to become exclusionary in his thinking.

What compels someone to cut themselves off from new ideas and new perspectives?

I suspect that at the root of the issue is a fundamental uneasiness in their character; they are not confident in who they are as a person, and they therefore are scared of hearing anything that doesn’t immediately concur with their own views.

I also suspect that people who cut themselves off from others also have the potential of developing high levels of arrogance; they think “I am right about everything and therefore don’t need to hear what anyone else says”

Especially troubling to me is the high percentage of young adults I am noticing who appear to be trending toward this exclusionary way of thinking. Young adults have always gravitated toward hanging out with likeminded individuals, but in recent years it seems to me they have taken things a step further in that they have no interest whatsoever to dialogue, listen, or engage with others who have contradictory ideas than their own.

This past week I had a 25 year old tell me “older people deserve no respect for merely being old; they’ve proven to me that they deserve my contempt and I only dish out respect on a person-by-person basis”.

I can see how many young people feel disenfranchised by what the previous generations have done to the world in Europe and the Americas…….but is that any reason to have such a hostile tone in one’s attitude toward older people?

When I meet an older person on the street I show them respect……if of course after meeting them they prove to me they don’t deserve respect than that is another thing….

But ultimately; I was taught to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Isn’t a part of living in a civil society demonstrating respect to our elders?

Unfortunately, many of the youth in the Western World do not have a healthy respect for their elders at all.

When I told the 25 year old that as a parent I’m teaching my children to demonstrate respect to others and especially to older adults, he then responded with quite a bit of vitriol; “Well you can be sure that a couple of your children are going to grow up and not practice that at all!”


Is that what I should expect from my children; that they will grow up with contempt toward older people?

Look, I’m not expecting my children to agree 100% with all my views……if you read my blog I’m sure you can see that I’m pretty laid back about a lot of things.

But I do hope that my children grow up with a level of humility in which they demonstrate respect to older people…..even if they don’t always agree with them.

Is that asking too much?

Wow….I REALLY need another cup of coffee right now!


Categories: Really???

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. It’s a fair call to make that there are many young people that disregard and disrespect the aged. Thank goodness that there are also many young people that do respect there elders and also go out of there way to help the aged. Generally, location seems to have a strong bearing on whether the young respect the aged, along with appreciation, kindness, and the willingness to not simply judge someone by age, but by mutually understanding each other.

    • “Generally, location seems to have a strong bearing on whether the young respect the aged”

      dude, excellent observation. interestingly enough the young man whose comments I quoted in the post lives in a college town and pretty much only associates with his peers….he has little connection to older people.

  2. Another manifestation of the me generation…….Have we given our children so much that they no longer have respect for the sacrifices we have made to make their lives so comfortable? Thankfully, there are exceptions to the rule out there trying to make the world a better place.

    • I’m definitely happy there are exceptions….but as you point out it is very sad that there are so many children who don’t realize what the previous generation sacrificed for them.

  3. Reblogged this on Nyakerario's Blog.

  4. You said “you suspect the root of the issue is a fundamental uneasiness”. I always want to hear very differing ideas from people. It gives me information on how they came to believe that way. There is all kinds of important history and information in that. I abhor prejudice and yet I need to learn why it is perpetuated. My children at this time are much more militant in the ideas that I shared with them. I believe that is a very important part of growing up that they identify with their causes. I know that with maturity they will feel less threatened by listening to opposing viewpoints.

  5. I have to agree with you whole-heartedly. I’ve noticed this breakdown in dialogue getting worse and worse over the last few years, on an international basis. American politicis has become a terrible example of this, but the tendancy of the youth to dismiss older people has become pretty obvious, even if a correlating rise in the youth’s desire to be respectful of diversity has given me some hope. Overall, we’re devolving into an internet society that only hangs out with other internet denizens that agree with us. It’s why Fox News and The Daily Beast can sound so one note. There is no place for facts–just opinions. Depending on the opinion you believe, you can go to specific sites and friends and always have it validated. It’s a scary world we live today, when people feel free to repeat outright lies as truths, not usually because they are malicious, but because they are actually convinced the garbage coming out of their mouths is the truth. There is nothing more dangerous, I think, than an ignorant human with an ax to grind.

  6. i hate agreeing because it’s a sad state of affairs but i definitely agree with the lack of respect for elders (by elders i also simply mean adults, those older than youth – that’s why it’s so hard to be a teacher even in elementary school now because kids don’t have respect for anyone). it’s disturbing. as for not wanting that dialog, well it may be easy to see in young people but they’re far from being the only ones. i’ve noticed that in almost all age groups myself. in my experience, it just seems to be about apathy and self-centeredness… they just don’t care or want to care about anything else but themselves. caring for others is too burdensome or something. it’s tragic. in my eyes kenneth, the fact that you’re teaching your kids how to respect elders and possibly be willing to listen to others means they’re not nearly as likely to be jerks like that 25-year-old. im sure he was either never taught or his own parent(s) were jerks so he developed those ideas from experience. that’s a guess but i think it’s a reasonable one.

  7. “What compels someone to cut themselves off from new ideas and new perspectives?”
    Stubbornness, plain and simple. At least that is what it seems to me from those I experience this phenomenon from. Also, when one reaches a certain age, they aren’t going to change their views or personality. They are who they are.

    As for respecting elders, I teach my son not only to respect elders but all humans, old, young, no matter color, race, or sexual orientation. Even though I may disagree with someone’s lifestyle or actions, that doesn’t give me the right to treat them like crap. That is between them and God. All humans deserve respect, well unless they are out right evil and wrong doers (molesters, killers,, rapist, etc…).

  8. For most people it is easier to hang around those with similar thoughts and opinions. However, how would a person ever know that they are wrong unless they allow their thoughts to be challenged? This is why it is crucial to spend time with those of differing thoughts and with those who are more educated than us in various subjects. As you mentioned about Gandhi, we should not want to become exclusionary in our thoughts.

    • “For most people it is easier to hang around those with similar thoughts and opinions”

      you are right. Sadly, people often do what is ‘easiest’ and that is not necessarily the best thing they could be doing.

  9. know alot of people, mostly family members, who are like this, who only want to hear what they want to hear . If you ask me, it’s a sign of people being very close minded. I don’t understand why or how they can stand to go through life like this, never challenging their views, opinions, etc. You know, yesterday I was talking to my mom about how I tend to be skeptical, I take what people say with a grain of salt, because there’s so much disinformation out there today. But my mom isn’t skeptical. Why? Because she chooses to live in a bubble. I guess that’s how some people like to live, but notme.

    • Kristina,

      for us people who have a strong faith in god…..there runs this weird line in our lives where we are always wanting to not let skepticism overwhelm us…..but at the same time like you said, we NEED to be skeptical or else we can end up believing in just about anything under the sun.

  10. I’ve been a mom of four (and a couple of their friends) and grandmom of four (so far) for a total of 43 years. You can teach them all the good stuff and knock yourself out with weekly church and religion classes until they are of adult age, but you can still end up with strangers at times whose errors or beliefs utterly mystify you. As my son says whenever I worry aloud, “You gave us all the basics, Mom, you instilled good things. Don’t worry. They’re still there.” It has been a strange but real comfort!

  11. I think a lot of young people are in a difficult situation right now with lack of opportunities thanks to unemployment and at least in the UK the rise of student fees for university. Generally I’d say that they’re a little bit bitchier than the previous generation because they have a lot of energy and ambition but have no where to put it! And so, its a comfort to be able to spout grand opinions and have the people around you all agree with you.

  12. Depending on who the person is, emotional scars will out-weight logic and reason every time. It’s a sensible defence mechanism on one hand, unhelpful and notoriously difficult to turn off on the other. To further complicate the issue, many bad memories are integral parts of an immediate personal identity and to be told to give them up by a stranger who thinks they know better, is dangerous and unkind. For myself, I have all kinds of differing views and opinions, enough to argue and offend just about anyone. The impossible task I have is to learn how to do it without annoying people and reinforcing their hostility. It’s not something you can learn at a school, or practice safely, or take from a book, since everyone is different and etiquette was invented to avoid the problem.

%d bloggers like this: