Listen, Learn, Act

June 5, 2020

Ellen Weaver

Former President & CEO


It’s something I’ve been trying to do a lot of over the last week…and I must confess, not always very well. It’s a lot easier to say than do!

24:7 “news-tainment” and social media platforms beckon us to add our voice to the cultural roar, to vent our every opinion, even shaming people as being complicit with injustice if they don’t join the Facebook frenzy.

The ancient wisdom contained in the book of Proverbs has never seemed more important, as it counsels us: “ Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

True listening is never passive. It’s not just hearing while waiting for your turn to talk, but rather, intently listening to gain understanding…that can then inform action.

We have seen this kind of cultural, heart-to-heart listening happen firsthand here in South Carolina, in the wake of the Mother Emanuel massacre. The result: concrete action taken to help move our state forward through a crippling, decades-old debate, and an example set for the world of how love and forgiveness destroy the power of hatred.

“Listen…to gain wisdom.”

Have we ever needed wisdom more? America is in a confluence of crises – health, economic, and racial – beyond anything I have ever seen in my lifetime.

Several weeks ago, I accomplished a quarantine goal, finishing The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. A compelling narrative of the journey of black Southerners to other areas of the country between 1920-1970, the author powerfully presented both the de jure injustice these pioneers escaped and the de facto injustice that greeted them at their destinations. I couldn’t have imagined when I started the book, how little I actually knew of history that had happened within my parents and grandparents generation. Or how incredibly relevant it would be to how I process the events of the last week and the long road ahead.

Knowing what to do as an individual can feel overwhelming. So for now, I continue to try to listen, learn…and think about new ways I can make a difference in my community.

And here at Palmetto Promise we continue our mission to find common ground. To fight unjust systems that determine a child’s education destiny by their zip code; that benefit Big Healthcare at the expense of patients; that penalize small business owners with unequal tax and regulatory burdens. To fight for ideas that allow every citizen in our state to reach their full God-given potential.


Photo: Palmetto Promise.  A group of pastors meet by the African-American History Monument on the Statehouse grounds to pray over the city and nation on June 1, 2020.