Thursday, November 9, 2017

     The other night, a fellow Toastmaster and excellent speaker gave a speech entitled, “One Thing.” The gist of her speech was to answer the question:  “If you could teach someone one thing, what would it be?” Oh, my. Do you have an hour?

     The beauty of listening to good speakers is that you can always either learn something or be inspired to answer some life question. One thing out of so many that I would love to teach? I am a teacher so I would want to teach something that would make the world a better place. For me, that would be empathy. 

     Empathy assumes one important ingredient:  listening. We cannot empathize if we don’t listen. This means that you can’t have the logorrhoea disease (flapping your pie hole constantly) and be empathetic. Empathy means putting yourself in the other’s shoes. Not only do you have to listen with an open and even better, a creative mind, but you have to let go of yourself and your own agenda and live for a few moments as someone else.

     Empathy does not say, “Oh, you poor thing.” That is judgment and condescension. Empathy says, “I hear you. I get it. I’m with you on this.” When someone shares a crisis, a problem, an intimate issue, the person is not necessarily asking you to make it better; he is asking you to feel, at some level, his pain and confusion. 

     Hate and revenge cannot thrive in an empathic culture. Our country is divided. People are dressed in hate and poised to react. How about trying to understand where the hate is coming from and suspend judgment? How about reacting to hate with compassion and empathy? 

     For so many, this is a new and foreign paradigm. It’s time.