Do you have a banana in your ear?

There is a saying: don’t try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it irritates the pig. Which I think is supposed to mean don’t try to make people happy (or different in most any other way, you will only get in trouble).

There was a social worker who went into a bar, she sits down and sees this woman with a banana in her ear – a banana in her ear of all things! So, the social worker wonders if she should mention it to her. She thinks to herself, I’m off work, it really is none of my business. But the thought nags at her. So, after a couple of glasses of wine, she says to the woman, “Excuse me, I don’t mean to intrude, but, I can’t help but notice you’ve got a banana in your ear.”

The woman responds, “what?”

And the social worker repeats, “You’ve got a banana in your ear.”

And again the woman responds, “what did you say?”

The social worker shouts, “You’ve got a banana in your ear!”

And the woman replies, “Talk louder, I’ve got a banana in my ear.”

And sometimes our efforts to build a world of social justice and human rights feel a whole lot like that conversation.  So, remember the injunction to remember that nothing human is alien to any of us. Well, applied here, that seems to me to suggest that we all may very well have a banana in our ears. So, before we take the splinter from our neighbor’s eye, maybe we should take the banana from our own ear. Maybe we need to pause and truly listen, to hear the needs of our neighbors in their own terms before we ‘fix’ their world?

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