The idea that all of us are created equal, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, means that everyone deserves respect. We can practice being respectful at home first by listening to our own wisdom and the ideas of others and then by staying informed and expressing our opinions.
Listening to Yourself
The best place to start with respectful listening is with yourself. When you have a decision to make, take the time to sit in stillness and hold your questions about this decision in your heart, seeking guidance. As Jamal Rahman writes in Sacred Laughter of the Sufis, "With practice, you will learn to discern between the voice of your ego and the voice of your higher self." Trust your own inner wisdom.
Listening to Others
When someone else is talking, cultivate an inner alignment with the sacred. Allow your heart to connect to the person who is talking. Try to maintain a sense of holding yourself and the speaker in a container of nonjudgment and peace. Set the intention to listen from your heart rather than from your mind. Hold the question in your heart, "What's behind this statement?" throughout the conversation. As you hold this question, pay attention to what feelings, needs, and values are expressed. Listen for the speaker's longings for herself, her loved ones, and the larger community.