The nail-bitten and wash-raw hands of Donald Trump in the image above clutch a note in the handwriting of some aide counseling him to say, clearly, a few things:
1) What would you want me to know about your experience?
2) What can we do to help you feel safe?
5) I hear you.
"I hear you" can be meant in a lot of ways, you know. "I hear you" can mean "I am listening to you because what you say is important to me". It can mean "I recognize your importance." When folks regularly say "I hear you" or "I hear that", it easily means "I know where you are coming from. I recognize and see you". I don't know why things so anodyne and basic to the human political response even needed to be written down. Who needs to be told to acknowledge the person asking you things? Who needs to be told that the survivors of a gun-related tragedy should be invited to speak from their experience?
(Someone who probably does not care, is my guess.)
These notes were given to Trump so he could remember how to not look like someone bought and paid for by a shit-ton of NRA money. He was supposed to be interested in what the folks had to say, seem welcoming to input, try to reassure his hearers that he wanted to keep their security in mind, like some kind of chief executive of a very large nation might. And then he was supposed to reassure his querents that he was not just a mighty oracle, but a benign one, by ensuring them that he was "hearing them".
It might have been better if he was actively listening to them (not that I know he has ever actively listened to anyone in his life). Many hearers of his talk came away with the idea that he was not listening at all. Who, for example, comes away from a group of people agreeing that no more guns is the answer, and then states like a super-genius--"Let's arm teachers!"
Someone who isn't listening and can't even read a room, I would say.
I did not watch the CNN Townhall with the students and Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch from the NRA, so I don't even know how that went. But I feel like this discussion needs a crash course in people understanding how to not just hear one another, but listen. But especially to survivors who would not feel protected if they had a gun.