On Empathy

Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.

Barack Obama

Empathy also extends benefit of the doubt in a generous way, because we can’t often know what those shoes look like.

Perceiving that while everything seems good in another person’s life, we might consider that they have a past that creeps up, that remains undigested, or that might be buried so deep in the unconscious but informs their actions and colors their lens.

And we can’t expect to know the half of it. So instead we must accept that we won’t know the full context behind their plight, their actions, their thoughts, perhaps their own lack of empathy. There often won’t be enough information to pass “fair judgement,” and when we do get lucky enough get it, the judgment is often much less critical, much less black and white.

So instead, we decide to simply understand that there is something there.

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