Prac­tic­ing Em­pa­thy

Do you build walls or cir­cles?

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - JOYCE SUTTIN IS A RE­TIRED TEACHER AND WRITER AND LIVES IN SAN AN­TO­NIO, USA. BY JOYCE SUTTIN

I WAS WATCH­ING AN IN­TER­VIEW LAST SUN­DAY, and the guest was asked, “What’s the great­est need in the world today?” With­out hes­i­ta­tion, he re­sponded, “Em­pa­thy. The world needs more em­pa­thy.”

I prob­a­bly would have re­sponded, with­out think­ing, that the world needs more love. But I liked his an­swer. It was much more spe­cific to say that the world needs more em­pa­thy.

Em­pa­thy is putting your­self in some­one else’s shoes. Em­pa­thy is giv­ing some­one the ben­e­fit of the doubt. Em­pa­thy is re­al­iz­ing that ev­ery­one has their story. Em­pa­thy helps us to lis­ten more and ad­vise less. Em­pa­thy helps us to strive for un­der­stand­ing and es­chew judg­ment.

Then I re­mem­bered another friend I had got­ten to know named Judy. When I first saw her in my neigh­bor­hood, I tried to be friendly. She barely re­sponded or spoke to me. Af­ter months of try­ing to in­ter­act with her, she fi­nally talked with me and ex­plained that she had se­vere back prob­lems, and walk­ing was so painful she could hardly speak. Af­ter her surgery and re­cov­ery, we have come to be good friends. She taught me not to make judg­ments about peo­ple. They are of­ten go­ing through things we could not even imag­ine. Judy taught me a good les­son about em­pa­thy.

In today’s world, in which peo­ple are quick to comment and judge sit­u­a­tions that are flashed across their com­put­ers, we need more em­pa­thy. When it is com­mon to con­demn, bully, and bad­mouth peo­ple we do not take time to un­der­stand, we need more em­pa­thy. When we al­low fear to build walls between us, we need more em­pa­thy. If we want to al­low Je­sus to have more con­trol in our lives and in our thoughts, we need more em­pa­thy.

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