Gain Perspective: The Importance of Empathy

Gain Perspective: The Importance of Empathy

“Courtesy is really doing unto others as you would be done unto, and the heart of it lies in a careful consideration for the feelings of other people. It comes from putting one’s self in his neighbour’s place, and trying to enter into his mind, and it demands a certain suppression of one’s self, and a certain delicate sympathy with one’s neighbour. So far as our abounding egotism reigns, we are bound to be discourteous, because we shall be so blindly immersed in our own affairs that we cannot even see the things of others. So far as we break the bonds of self and project ourselves into the life of our brother man, we are bound to be courteous, because we shall now be interested in what is dear to him. This man also has a family and a business ; this man also has had sicknesses and trials. Imagine! We must not therefore talk without ceasing about our children, our interests, our afflictions, our life. This man also has a church, and a creed, and opinions of his own, and a history. Remarkable ! We must not, therefore, assume that our kind of religion, and our traditional views, and our favourite notions, and our particular set make the whole round world. This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle, we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him, nor help his lower self. We must feel as a brother towards the man beside us, and say to him the things that we should like to have said to us, and treat him as we should desire to be treated when our hands are hanging down and our hearts are heavy. And this is the very essence of courtesy.”  -Ian Maclaren, The Homely Virtues

Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own. -Barbara Kingsolver

What’s your story?  How has empathy touched your life?  psycheandsociety@usa.com  

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This entry was posted in Life, Motivational/Inspirational, Philosophy, Relationships, Self-Help, Society and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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