Empathy, part 2

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s hard not to with all that is going on. I typed up this very lengthy and detailed post at first, but then realized I could say what I wanted to say more directly and concisely and still get my point across.

I’m very concerned and afraid about what’s going on in our country right now. There are things being said and actions being taken that seem to contradict the values of freedom and liberty that this country values so greatly. I’m worried because it seems like, especially right now, there is an extreme lack of empathy. It seems like people are having a really hard time listening to any opinion but their own. 

It scares and bothers me. I’m not sure what to do. I don’t like to talk about politics on social media or online because I feel so much can get lost in translation online and I just feel these types of conversations are much better in person, face-to-face. But I believe this is going far beyond politics and is very obviously affecting our present, and more worrisome to me, the future for our children.

I’ve talked before about empathy and how vital I feel it is to instill in a child. If you can’t place yourself in someone else’s shoes, if you can’t try to understand and feel their perspective, their views, their pain…then you will just see them as different…and you will react out of fear…which seems to be happening a lot right now. I’m not saying that we have to agree with everyone or give up our own beliefs…but we have to be able to at least hear someone out, to understand that there are perspectives out there that differ from our own, and most importantly to treat people with love and respect.

I am a Christian and that colors everything that I do and think. And I always come back to Jesus’ answer to his disciples as to what was the greatest commandment: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:36-39‬ ‭NIV‬‬ This tells me that my number one job as a Christian is to love God with everything I do, but that it is also equally as important that I show love and respect to others.

As I raise my children I try to keep this in mind. There are many things that I wish and hope for my children, but these two things I hope and pray for the most. First, I hope that they will love God and choose to do something that honors him. This won’t be forced upon them, and if they choose not to, they will never ever lose my love and support. Second, I hope that they are good people…and that they treat other people they meet with love and respect. What they do in regards to the latter will be vital in determining my success as a parent. That’s why this is so important to me and so upsetting when I see what is going on right now. It makes my job harder when there are fewer examples of people showing empathy that I can point to as I guide my kids. I hope that as my children grow old enough to understand what is going on, that their hearts are filled with empathy. I hope they choose to show love and kindness, rather than act out of hatred and fear. 

This is fatherhood…

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