The Gift of Empathy

by Sophia Tara

I want to give you the gift of empathy
And to rid myself of lifeless thought limiting what I see
It’s taken me a while but I’ve come to see at last
How much I miss the present with eyes fogged by the past
So if I take some time before I answer you
I am clearing away my projections
So your divinity can come through
(Dr Marshall Rosenberg)

In the 21st century we are beginning to see that living in right relationship with ourselves, each other and all the kingdoms of nature will become not a choice, but a necessity, for the survival and sustainability of all life on Mother Earth; and to end poverty and war as a scourge on our planet, an unnatural state of being, on our evolutionary journey. We yearn for a new livingness which will demonstrate our true nature as souls in incarnation, a new paradigm which will enable our conscious shift from a culture of violence to a culture of peace. We recognise with growing awareness and urgency that peace begins with each one of us.

  

The great peace reformer, Mahatma Gandhi, once said that non-violence is a life force, that when harnessed becomes contagious and can disarm nations and change the world. It begins in our hearts, where we renounce the violence inside us, then it moves outwards with active, persistent truth and love, towards our families, towards our communities, towards our nation and out into the world.

Empathy and compassion are qualities of the soul which foster understanding and connection with ourselves and others. It is a consciousness of the heart, flowing from the Divine Essence of Life itself. This quality of empathic connection is the cornerstone of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), the Language of Life, founded by cultural creative and peace-maker, Dr Marshall Rosenberg. It is practiced by NVCers all over the globe.

  

These qualities were understood and employed by one of the greatest US Presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln. He transformed possible “enemies” into friends with the power of compassion and empathy, qualities which seemed innate within the depth and wisdom of his character. Lincoln was also a keen observer of human nature.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote that ” Mr Lincoln possessed extraordinary empathy – the gift or curse of putting himself in the place of another, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.” Others have said, “He played on the human heart as a master on an instrument.” He gave the key-note to his own character when he said, “With malice towards none, with charity for all.” Gratitude was a religion with him. Lincoln’s capacity for compassion and empathy was the hallmark of his greatness, a true giant among men.

President Obama has openly stated his admiration for Abraham Lincoln as a mentor and role-model. If we still trust that Obama will seek to enculturate and employ within his administration, the considerable empathic qualities which Lincoln demonstrated in his personal and political life, we may yet see a People’s President at the helm of the most powerful nation on Earth, and we can have faith in Obama’s original vision and words when he took office, “Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”

President Obama wrote a letter to a young girl. He said, “Creating change and making the world better is not always easy, and you will probably find in your life that it is more comfortable to ignore injustices that don’t affect you directly. Don’t take that comfortable road. Challenge yourself to make a difference.” He continued, “If you don’t already know what it means, I want you to look up the word “Empathy” in the dictionary. I believe we don’t have enough empathy in our world today and it is up to your generation to change that.”

      

There is nothing more powerful than a vision whose time has come. Humanity has come of age and is ready, above all else, for a diverse Culture of Compassion and Empathy within our homes, schools, workplaces, the custodianship of Mother Earth, and most of all within our world governments. Indeed, compassion and empathy may be the most essential qualities needed for the restoration, care and sustainability of our beautiful bountiful planet; the future welfare of humanity and all the kingdoms of nature.

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