The only way some people know how to feel heard is through the sound of their car horn.
And I’m not just being facetious when I say that.
That’s what I told myself when a “rolling Trump rally” disrupted my Sunday morning last week and paraded down the street, horns blaring, attempting to attract any amount of self-validating attention.
The truth is that there are, in fact, many people who do not know how to feel genuinely expressed except through that which is loud, sharp, without nuance, even overbearing in nature.
For some, the only way they know how to feel heard is through sudden, explosive bursts of noise, emotion, or ego.
For some, the only way they know how to feel expressed is through what passersby cannot avoid, unhear, or even move away from.
Imagine what it must feel like to be someone who might only feel heard through expressions like these; through the blaring of an actual or proverbial car horn.
What does that say of the soul within, desperate and longing to be heard?
What does it say of the rest of us and our willingness to hear them?
Are You a Car-Horn Person?
I am not a person who reacts well to car-horn people — both literal car-horn abusers and figurative “car-horn people” who, at their core, only seem to know how to express themselves through loud, intrusive, and sometimes deliberately antagonistic expressions.
I don’t like being shouted over, spoken at, or antagonized into a debate, especially when it’s pretty transparently an attempt to validate one’s own insecurities or self-righteousness.
It’s not my job to play that role in their story.
But, after I establish a boundary — regulating my emotion and resolving any frustration — I’m usually able to traverse out of my own ego and self-defensiveness, and sink back into the heart-space where empathy lies.
(The latter builds bridges. The former builds walls.)
And, there, reconnected to my Self, the truth of the matter becomes more clear to me:
It is not about the car horn, or the noise it makes, or even its hollow, faulted attempt to communicate something of meaning.
For some, this is the only tool that they have to feel heard.
Whether it’s a car horn, Tweet, Facebook post or inappropriate side-comment made at the dinner table, it’s not really about the noise that they are making that matters.
It’s the attempt to make a noise, at all.
We All Want, and Deserve, to Feel Heard
Rolled up in even the loudest, most abrasive, most finger-wagging of noises that people can make — especially during a political campaign season — is something more significant (and more human) than just the noise, antagonism, or intrusion.
I believe it has never been more important to attempt to empathize and understand the origin of the “car horn” on a human level, especially today.
And, to me, at the core of the blaring of a car horn is yearning and longing. The noise is a hope to be affirmed.
It is an expression of a desire to matter — and, perhaps, desperately so.
It is a want for affirmation that they do, in fact, exist.
It is a craving for acknowledgment of their feelings; that, no matter what I, or you, or anyone else may think of those feelings, the feelings are fundamentally valid because they are real.
There may well be lonesome, and fear, and profound existential insecurity beneath the lashings out of the noises that they make.
And as confronting, less-than-ideal, and short-lived as their attempts to be heard may be, the blaring of a car horn is nevertheless perhaps the best attempt that some people have to express themselves and to honor their want to feel heard.
At the core of abusing a car-horn is still a fundamental human desire. It is a desire that we all possess, and one with which we can all empathize.
The desire is to matter, at all.
The desire is to feel heard by anyone.
It is a desperate shout into the void of their own experience in life, wherein they may feel as though no one can hear them; wherein, perhaps, they feel as if no one cares to try.
Some part of me, deep down, does really empathize with how lonesome and desperate it must feel to be a person who longs so mightily to be heard that the only way they know how to try is by blaring a car horn.
The same can be said for those who resort to shouting, arguing, or even taking up extremely antagonistic ideas to validate their own sense of self-importance.
I don’t like that.
I don’t agree with it.
I try to be different, myself.
And yet, I know that the work before us today — each of us as individual humans, and together as a collective — is not to further define the many strict and deepening lines that already separate “Us” from “Them” in the modern political and social spheres.
The work in coming together is to practice identifying our humanity and commonality in “the other,” and to practice relating their actual humanity and commonalities in us.
To those who use yearn to be heard, I hope that they may find their authentic voices.
Even if I disagree with the noise they make, or how they make it, I do empathize and relate to the feeling of being desperate to be heard. I became a writer, in no small part, because I used to feel incapable or without a means of expressing myself. And I still do remember and understand what it feels like.
May each of us, eventually, feel wholly and truly expressed.