We will only go as far in bringing justice, peace and hope to our world as our ability to empathize with one another will carry us.
I don’t see unity. Even conversations about fast food restaurants are fueled by hate, fear and anger. I believe that we are a divided people. This division from where I sit comes from our inability to simply feel how someone else feels and see a situation from another persons perspective. From there, we fall short of standing up for someone once we have begun to empathize. We fall short of building connections and building bridges between people. We let our differences divide us.
Those differences come in many forms. We fall prey to the separation caused by political parties, race, religion, culture, upbringing, and who’s turn it is to do the dishes. When the spotlight is on the differences we often turn to anger and hatred towards that person which then leads us to dehumanize them. When this happens we are not able to empathize, we don’t even care. In the midst of the arguing we focus on our differences and not on those things that we all share.
We have a lot of things in common. We obviously feel that our view, our side, our team is the best and if we are the best then others are of lesser value, we are all people who are passionate about something. I often find that the emotions that spurn on peoples passions and views are often the same. We speak from experiences, hurts, doubts, and worries. The things that drive us are often times the things we hope to fix most. We experience things in life that have shaped our views. People have similar emotions even in the midst of the tension we share. Fear, confusion, anger, these things are shared by us in that moment. We also share the hope for something better than our current situation.We must use these similarities, however small, to help drive our ability to empathize with one another.
So how do you build or even find empathy? You fight for it. You look for the humanity in people. That little something that says, I know how you feel. We’ve all suffered loss, hurts, pains, we have all faced some tough stuff in our lives. We have all also seen great joy and triumph. We must listen to the stories of one another. Let those stories sink it and resonate with us. Discover the connections between one another, don’t just blow them off because it is different from you.
You should have people in your life that are different from you. They should look different, work in different industries, believe differently and even vote differently. Then take all those differences and share life together. Eat a meal, laugh, share life stories and love people for who they are, and not who you wish they would be.
Create safe space. Sometimes, we need to talk through our differences. We need to be humble enough to admit when we are wrong, vulnerable enough to admit our flaws and caring enough to not let these differences separate us. Listen to one another. Truly listen. Hear their hearts and their fears and not just wait for your turn to talk.
Our ability to empathize with one another is what will save the day.