Empathy

02/08/2017

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Thoughts about US. It was one of the most widely read and shared pieces I’ve written. Even though the readers of these Wednesday Words hold an array of varying beliefs, every response was gracious, thoughtful, and kind. Some of you even chose to create your own list of centering beliefs. It’s been great to read your thoughts. Thank you for replying and sharing.

One of my friends and someone I greatly respect wrote the following response. It’s a helpful critique and addition:

I don’t know if you’re conscious of it, but there’s an unwritten word woven through every thought in this essay: empathy.
It should be the filter through which we as humans view every interaction. While I like the somewhat simplistic mantra of ‘all you need is love’, I think the real key to bridging divides is by challenging ourselves to see the world through the eyes of another without judgement. It seems simplistic to have to articulate this fundamental truth, but people have a really hard time setting aside ego and personal preconception, and just listening. Lord knows I have to be reminded from time to time, but when I do, in general, I find my life enriched and my connections stronger.

Thanks for the inspiration. We’re gonna need a lot of it in the days ahead.
– Timothy Hogan

Those words have stuck with me.

Empathy is the act of listening. But not just listening – it’s pausing, placing yourself in the other person’s shoes, and staying there with your eyes wide open.

The longer you stay there, the more you’ll see and feel the world in the same way as that person.

It’s the best kind of listening.

There’s been a lot of anger over the past few weeks. Understandably so.

But our greatest act of growing together as a community is pausing to see where others are coming from and why it matters to them. It’s a gift that settles the most tumultuous situations.

Because the opposite of anger is not being more calm.
It’s being more empathetic.