When we choose to live life never walking in another's shoes then we have chosen to live life with our eyes closed. The saddest part of this is our choice in the matter. When we build walls and act on anger, fear and hatred, we are walking through life with our eyes closed. But we have the option to open them. To understand that we are not measured by our convictions but by our actions. That there will be no forgiveness for vitriolic or hateful behavior no matter if its roots are in misguided fear and good intentions. We have control to open our eyes. To walk in another's shoes and empathize, understanding that the human in me is the human in you. It is time to take the responsibility and walk with our eyes open no matter how painful, so that we may leave the world a better place then when we entered it.
We humans like to categorize ourselves to both differentiate one another and find commonalities between each other. As a young child I was troubled by these categories we created. The idea of us and them, we and they, and you and me made me feel disconnected from others. It was in these same moments of discomfort that my gut would say that these differences we highlighted between ourselves or about ourselves only served to harm our greater purpose and ability. As humans we are bestowed with the unique ability to understand one another, to reach out, listen and empathize. Yet with these categories it seemed just as easy for us to divide and respond with apathy.
For me, the root of this apathy came down to these categories. If I see myself as so different from you then it will be hard for me to understand how to be compassionate towards you. If I see myself as part of one group and you as part of another then what is there to connect us. It was in these moments that I realized the roots of hate and violence are grown from seeds of difference and that these divisions, though formidable, can be dismantled if we recognize that the human in me is the same human in you. That my suffering is not unlike your suffering and that together we have a greater chance at reducing it.
However, it is not easy, nor is it comfortable to dismantle these categories and look towards our commonalities. But like any practice it has become easier with time. It is my hope that in cultivating this practice and passing it on that we may be able to build bridges in this divisive time.
Hi, I'm Liz. I like to write about life and the wisdom I cull from it. I use words and images to inspire empathy and connection with each other and the world.