Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
As I recall, I first became familiar with this quote about 30 years ago. I have since sought to make it foundational in how I see the world.
Much of the negativity, violence, hatred, and injustice in the world comes from an over-emphasis on our own sorrow and suffering and a too-casual dismissal of the sorrow and suffering of others. The recognition of the human condition as a universally wondrous, but often painful affair, must breed a greater sense of compassion for others in thinking person.
By striving to see this truth present in others, all other living things, we begin to disarm our hostility. Frankly, we begin to stop seeing them as an enemy and restoring their sense of humanity in our minds. What an enlightened achievement that is!
The question that invariably comes up is, “That’s great, but what if my enemy doesn’t attain that enlightenment and continues to try to harm me?” We see this mindset flaunted in our foreign policy and on social media. It’s almost a hurt them and silence them before they have a chance to hurt you and silence you mentality.
That is not and never will be the world or the mindset I choose. Obviously, we should be clear-eyed and protect ourselves from harm or danger. However, we should not see harm and danger around every corner or believe it comes from someone because who they are or what they look like. And maybe, just maybe, by being the first to see your adversary’s humanity, you might be doing what they so badly wanted to do but lacked the courage.
Someone has to bust down the doors the separate. Why not you and me? Empathy and compassion are not weakness. They are profound courage.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope, if you find it useful, you will share it with others.
Have an AWESOME day!