THE IDES OF JUNE 2020
Empathy is the power to enter into the feelings or spirit of something other than ourselves. It is a skill of insight into other people’s sense of reality. As well as a way to feel their experiences as though they were our own. Whether those perceptions are physical or mental. It is a way of becoming, to some degree, the one we are in touch with. This means having the strength of will to set our own egos aside. So that we have the room to feel what they feel.
Since we are all human, there are things we share in common. We all need to eat; even if we don’t want to eat the same things. When we are tired, we all need to sleep. Even though we don’t all want to sleep the same way. And we all want our children to be healthy and safe. Even though we don’t all agree on the best way to make that happen. There are hundreds of commonalities that give us ways to know other peoples’ perceptions and drives.
It is human nature to consider our own viewpoint first. As it is the outlook we know best. Plus it is usually the one that best serves our interests. But beyond that, considering other points of view takes time. This is often time we are not willing to spare. Especially when a point of view interferes with our plans, or affronts our world view of how things should be. So when we don’t care for an idea; chances are good we won’t like the one who suggests it either.
Yet the messenger is not the message; and good people can have bad ideas. That is why each idea must be judged on its own merit; not on its source. And if we can empathize with the person presenting the idea; we can understand why they think it is a good idea. As well as gain insight into the intent behind the thought. That will give us far more information than the message will on its’ own. Which can help us better understand the value of all our options.
As empathy informs our insight of those around us, they become less of a threat to us. Because we understand them better and have a sense of their plans. When we are more comfortable with the people around us; they will perceive us as less of a threat to them. This promotes an environment of cooperation and tolerance; as our perceived threat to each other goes down. Which, in turn, lets our opportunities for productivity and creativity rise.
Suspicion and distrust often arise from ignorance and fear. When we don’t know a person, and their ways are unfamiliar to us; it is easy to see them as a danger. And our tendency is often to maintain that status quo. Yet we have tools, like never before, to express who we really are. As well as what we have to offer each other. But success requires that we listen as well as express. Taking the time to listen (or having the desire to listen) means accepting that the people around us have the right to be here.
That may not comfort our innate desire to control all that we see. But everyone grapples with those feelings, in one way or another. But it is not possible for us to shape reality to our individual will. Not every proposal from a stranger is a bad idea: because they don’t look like us; or sound like us; or smell like us. We can still appreciate the fact that they are human; just as we are. And that we share the only known spark of life in all of existence.
If we seek to empathize with each other; and realize that we are different reflections of the same thing, we can bury a lot of hatred. When we value human life over property and resources, we can stop a lot of misery and grief. When we learn that life cannot ordered by us alone, we can end a lot of suffering and pain. And when we actually do see all people as equal, in their human worth; our species will be ready to touch immortality.
J. A. Stubbs, Editor-In-Chief
Forgotten Lore Publishing, llc