Majdi is from Libya, and describes the importance of active listening. He explains the difference of mindsets between generations, and how acceptance and understanding remains an issue in his society. This story was recorded in partnership with MALA and StoryCorps, with Benedictine University’s MEPI 2016 program.
“My name is Majdi Elnakua. I am from Libya. I’m a medical student trying to survive through all the activities in MEPI. Understanding someone’s background gives you a better chance of making better future with them. Understanding their most hated things. Let’s say, their most loved things. That kind of mentality will help you forward with anyone you will deal with. It helps you with communication, it helps you with how you deal with them. We need more listening.
I think, when it comes to back home, understanding between generations is a bigger problem. It’s not the understanding of, like; well, young people understand each other more. But the problem’s happening between the new generation and the old one, if there is like a twenty years difference. So, imagine a twenty year old going to a forty year old and telling him that “this is wrong.”
We don’t have that kind of acceptance. We don’t have that kind of understanding. He will see you as a kid trying to teach him what to do. That’s one of the problems because it’s not the same generation – it’s not the same mindset. And, add to that, like, this huge increase in technology communication and how the world became smaller. I’d say the newer generation is more international than the old one. They read about more experience of other countries, they read more history, they know other cultures, they talk to other cultures through Facebook and these kind of things. Sometimes it gets overwhelming, but there are some positive things to it. You get to know about countries who went through the same experience you did. That might help you solve your problems faster, if you know how to channel it.
Getting more listening from the older generation to the younger generation, I think, is better than just not talking to each other. Not staying away into this separation of we’re older and they’re younger and these kind of things. If we get more communication between older and younger generations, we’ll get better results at resolving all the conflicts we have. When you go to, let’s say, two tribes, or two cities are in conflict. When you talk to the youth from both areas, it’s like they’re talking about the same thing. They have the same problem, lack of employment, bad education, they can’t get through to books, technology. They can’t get through to internet – sometimes it’s cut off. When you go to both communities, they have the same problems. But still, they think the other side is the devil and that they’re the ones who can’t let them have all these things. So, if they communicate, they’ll find out they have a lot of common points. They can deal with a lot of common things. The difference is which leader they support. So, when you take it all, you go back to the leader thing – it’s that the leaders are the ones creating the division. It’s not the people themselves.
Learn to coexist, understand each other, and listen to each other. It will be really enlightening – just try it. You’ll sometimes, even when you’re in conflict with a person, if you just listen to them, you’ll find out there have been a lot of things that you’ve been missing.
Diversity is one of the strengths here. Some people might not see it like that. Some people might interpret it in a different way, but having multiple cultures in one place, it’s what makes it more understanding, makes it more open to other cultures. And channeling it well can give you the strength of that culture rather than the weaknesses. If you understand it well, you can get whatever that culture is great in. And researching it and looking at it from a different perspective, from a far away, you can learn a lot and know what are the mistakes and what are the good things. What are the pros and cons, as people say. And that will help you a lot in developing your own self. That will help you a lot in being a better person, a better human.”