Empathy – our only chance

Lies, Slander, and our Uncivil Discourse.

I am at a loss. I do not understand the hatred. I get mad at someone and then it is over. I do not hold a grudge. I may not trust them for a while, but I keep my mind, eyes, and heart open to the possibility that it was all a matter of misunderstanding.

Nevertheless, to outright hate, someone, a religion, a race because of their skin color or belief system is ignorant and frankly a waste of energy. To protest, go to meetings, print t-shirts, and let it affect your temperament, attitude is just not healthy and serves no one but your ego.

If we can try to put ourselves in the place of the perceived other maybe we have a chance. To call someone a word to incite violence, embarrass or shame someone is the vial and is the worst behavior. To sow lies and untruths about people without doing due diligence shows a low level of intelligence.

Where are the reason and logic and decorum and our civility in our discourse? Where, I ask you? It is a sign we are de-evolving instead of becoming enlightened beings we are reverting to animalistic behavior.

Empathy – is the key to stopping us from destroying everything we have worked so hard to create and enliven. We must be aware of our thoughts, words, and actions. We must think before we speak. The Buddha advised us to practice right speech. Is it kind, relevant and true? Then speak your truth and move the conversation in a positive direction and to a positive outcome.

So many exchanges that are occurring online and in person begin with – What About..? Meaning that instead of relevance, they are dredging up past mistakes. However, they are usually bringing something up that exhibits a bias, which is paramount to pointing a finger.

Dredging up a past example is usually not kind or truth because of the implied bias. Since everything is fake news and alternative facts, what are we to believe? Well, science and math tend not to lie, and can always be adjusted. Nevertheless, opinions, beliefs, and convictions are usually a sticky affair. Furthermore, the ego never wants to admit it is wrong.

So what do we do? Practice empathy is my advice. It is a start. If we can try to put ourselves in another’s place, walk in their shoes, see through their eyes, imagine what it would be like, etc… It is simple yet difficult. A lot of us are not used to doing this. We just are not. However, we can try, right?

We all experience the same difficulties but the details are different. If we can try to remember a time or an instant where we might have felt what the person before us may be experiencing then we all could be better off.

Ask yourself this one question before you raise your voice, lose your temper, or judge someone else – What if it was me? Then ask yourself another question – What would I have done? Keep asking questions this is how we learn.

If someone is acting erratically, then you can surmise that person is in trouble or is unwell and may need your help. Again, stop and ask yourself some questions. Show an interest in your, our fellow brother or sister.

Look at empathy as a muscle you never used before. You have to exhort some effort, extend that muscle. Then let it rest until you need it again. Just be mindful when it is needed. If you show kindness, it will be returned. If you smile at someone – don’t they usually smile back?