So what is the problem here? What keeps us from relinquishing tribalism enough to unify in the interest of our shared desire to survive? How are we ever going to get out of this mess?! Those questions could be accurately answered in any number of ways. But for the purposes of this post, I am going to go with a very simple answer — or at least a direction toward that answer. We need to cultivate empathy in all aspects of our lives.
The cultivation of empathy — the ability to see the world from another’s perspective — actually goes hand in hand with commitment to growing in what Buddhism terms “Maitri” — a willingness to offer unconditional friendliness toward our selves. We might even call that foundational attitude “self empathy.”
If we can bring a little kindness toward ourselves, perhaps we can then make the effort to imagine what it is like to be in the shoes of our life partner, our kids, our parents, our neighbors. What is it like, we can wonder, to see the world through the eyes of a Democrat, a Republican, a Green Party person or a Libertarian? Why do you see the world the way you do if you are Joe Biden, Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin? And, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying who — if any of these guys — I share a world view with. I am simply postulating that personal, family, political and global issues have no real chance of being resolved in a harmonious and lasting way until we can deeply imagine what it would be like to walk a mile in another’s shoes.
Empathy is a pathway to forgiveness. Forgiveness in turn helps us to begin to see the good heart which can be found in all of us. That good heart is there, yearning to be seen — no matter how covered up it may have become from enduring the myriad ways in which we have suffered and likewise have caused others to suffer.
Here is a video I would like to see go viral: “Forgive Yourself, Forgive Humanity” (3:32)
Excerpted with permission from “My Corona Staycation” Vol. 6, by Christopher Gruener, MA, LMHC, who describes himself as “an old guy in his 70’s celebrating over three satisfying decades of marriage, private practice psychotherapy, and family life.” Chris’s hobbies are political rabble rousing, recycling bottles and cans in support of www.Plenty.org, and bicycle-related activities in cooperation with Bikes Not Bombs. Subscribe for free to the “My Corona Staycation” mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive this occasional mailing filled with transformational ideas, links, videos, songs, cartoons and more.