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Are We Listening or Are We Raging?

I volunteered for the Cynthia Nixon campaign this summer not because I thought she was the best candidate for governor or a had a good shot at winning, I did it to learn about voters. Who are the people who show up? What are they thinking? What can I learn from them? What can they learn from me? I got the opportunity to communicate with registered voters from all over the state of New York, most of whom, to be honest, were pretty much set on voting Cuomo dating back to my earliest voter communications in June.

Though I knew Cynthia was not widely admired due in part to some political particularities and, yes, her celebrity, I learned that many people simply weren’t up for change. Particularly at this time, when a celebrity who runs our country cannot pronounce the word “anonymous.” I also learned that I naturally didn’t want to engage with people who offered me replies like “why would I vote for that libtard lesbian who gets f**ked up the a** on that tv show?” There were, however, some who were interested in learning about her issues. And while the label, “democratic socialist” scared them, they asked questions and seemed appreciative for the information. Those particular people did something that is important now more than ever as a voter and as a human in this country: they listened.

In acting school, we train how to act like human beings. One of my early acting teachers, deeply rooted in the Meisner technique and, who later became a mentor in my life, used to walk around me and other acting students mid-scene singing “What do real people do? What do real people do?” Then he would stop and stare at us with a smirk before asking us to start from the top of the scene and “this time, like real people.” In retrospect, his wild condescension sort of gnaws at me, though I remain appreciative that he was reminding me, the actor and human, what is important from the start. Far beyond the time when we begin including text and behaviors brought on by information through text and situation and style and on and on and on, he reminded me the most important part of any interaction is to listen.