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 The Art of Listening


By Rutagengwa Claude Shema

Regional Coordinator

Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPI)


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     Dr. Bernard Lown (born 1921 in Lithuania), Professor of
Cardiology emeritus at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-
recipient with Yevgeniy Chazov of the 1885 Nobel Peace Prize as
Chairman of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear
War, toured a hospital as a young intern, with a group of other
interns who were observing their professor.  At that time, the cure
for a heart attack was six weeks of bed rest, an inhuman procedure
no longer applied today.  It was two weeks before Thanksgiving, the
one time each year in the United States when all relatives,
including children and grandchildren, get together.  An elderly
patient, who had had a heart attack and been in the hospital
already for a month, looked at the doctor and asked full of hope,
"Will I be home for Thanksgiving?"  The doctor exclaimed,
"Thanksgiving?  You are lucky if you will be home by New Year!"
Right then and there, the patient had another heart attack and
died.  This shocked Dr. Lown and left a deep impression on him what
devastating effect a single word can have.

     Many years later, an elderly man who suffered from irregular
heart beats (arrhythmia) came to see Dr. Lown.  He asked the man to
tell him about his grandchildren.  The man looked down.  Dr. Lown
waited a while and asked again, "How many grandchildren do you
have?"  The man hesitated, then said, four.  Dr. Lown asked him why
he had hesitated.  It turned out that his son, who had two
children, had had a disagreement with the man ten years ago over
some business deal and told his father, "You will never see your
grandchildren again for the rest of your life!"  So he was not sure
if he should count them or not.

     A week later, the patient came again to Dr. Lown, beaming, and
said, "You cured me!"  Dr. Lown asked, "How is that possible, I
have not even examined you yet?"  The patient said, "But you
listened to me!"  It turned out that all he needed was to be able
to tell someone about his real heartache, and his arrhythmia

     Dr. Lown said, "Words are a doctor's most powerful medicine."





                     (As told by Wayne Dyer)

     A fifth grade teacher began her first day with a new class.
All the students were neat and well-behaved, except for Jack, a boy
in the front row, who was slumped in his chair and seemed to need
a bath.  She felt annoyed by his lack of effort, and delighted in
marking his papers all over with her red pen, giving him a big 'F'.

But teachers in her school were required to read all their
students' reports from earlier years.  The first grade teacher
wrote, "Jack is a smart and happy boy, full of promise."  The
second grade teacher wrote, "Jack seems worried about his mother's
terminal illness."  The third and fourth grade teachers wrote "Jack
seems depressed about the loss of his mother."  Now she understood.

     From that day on she was more patient with Jack, focusing on
what he did well instead of his shortcomings.  For Christmas, all
the children brought neatly wrapped gifts.  Jack brought something
wrapped clumsily in brown paper from a shopping bag.  She opened it
while the other children frowned and found a necklace with some
missing rhinestones, and half a bottle of perfume.  She wore the
necklace and put on some of the perfume.  After school, Jack told
her with a bright smile, "Today you smell just like my Mom."

     At the end of the year, Jack told her, "You were the best
teacher I ever had."  About every four years, she received a letter
from Jack, saying what he was doing and adding, "You are still the
best teacher I ever had."  He became a medical doctor, and for his
wedding, he asked his fifth grade teacher to take the place of his
deceased mother.  She wore the necklace and put on the perfume Jack
had given her.  Jack told her, "Thank you for being so patient and
encouraging, without you I would never have made it."  She said,
"No, I must thank you, because you taught me how to teach."

     A Chinese proverb says, "Don't curse the darkness, light a

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