Ibn Hasdai writing in the 13th century said: "[Man] was given two ears and one tongue, so that he may listen more than speak." It is a privilege just to listen. And there is a fine distinction between "listen to" and "to listen." When we "listen to" we are actively engaging our senses of sound for a particular audible cue. But, when we choose "to listen," we are opening ourselves up to the sounds of silence and solitude; to ways and words unanticipated, unscripted and often—unfamiliar. We do not choose these words; they choose us.
When one views the planet Earth from outer space and sees no national boundaries, the prophecy of Teilhard de Chardin is compelling:
The age of nations is past. That task before us, if we would not perish, is to build the earth ... to help hear her wounds.