I recently came across a study done by Arthur P. Ciaramicoli and Katherine Ketcham, published in a book titled, "The Power of Empathy". In this book the authors discuss the attitudes and actions that contribute to empathy, which they believe is a teachable skill with far-reaching effects. In this excerpt they show how empathy leads to tolerance.
"Empathy leads us to tolerance, for only with empathy can we build bridges to others who seem so unlike us. Only with empathy can we reach out to people we initially want to push away because we imagine that in their brutality or their simplicity or their stupidity they are not like us. Empathy reminds us that the evil in others is a potential that we also carry within our own hearts. The capacity to hate, to exact revenge, to refuse forgiveness, even to take a life is in you as it is in me as it is in all human beings. That humbling realization and acceptance of our own shadow inevitably and unfailingly leads us to tolerance.
"Empathy allows us to see the connections between us, making strangers less strange, foreigners less foreign. When we adopt other people's perspectives, we do more than step into their shoes — we use their eyes, we borrow their skin, we feel their hearts beating within us, we lose ourselves and enter into their world, as if we were them. I emphasize those words once again because they are so critically important and so often misunderstood. With empathy, we do not step into others' experience to see it with our eyes — empathy demands that we see it with their eyes. Through that experience we are fundamentally changed, for we see with a sudden, startling clarity that we are the other. All the good and the bad that we see in them we can also recognize in ourselves. The hurt, the shame, the fear of humiliation, the desire for revenge — these are as much parts of our own souls as the quest for honesty, the humble spirit, the forgiving heart.
"Tolerance begins with the willingness to listen. Listening with empathy means that you put yourself aside and enter the other person's experience. You are, literally, all ears. Tolerance also involves the ability to listen, which is not the same as the willingness to listen. Many people are willing listeners, but they interrupt, take off on tangents, offer advice, and pronounce judgments — in other words, they cut off empathy through their untutored listening skills. Listening is an art that takes time, discipline, and practice.
"A third step in the process of developing tolerance is to look for extenuating circumstances, which means, simply, that we seek a broader understanding of other people's behaviors. When we can see the whole picture, rather than focusing in on one piece of it, we develop a more expansive range of emotional responses. Tolerance can be viewed as a way of understanding the 'extenuating circumstances' of other people's lives."
I find the results of this study to be profoundly Christian. There is nothing I could share that would add one iota to the words of these authors, so I simply share their thoughts for my readers to ponder, just as I myself am doing. It is, however, important to consider that the enemy of empathy is power. Those who are in positions of power over others, often have trouble being empathetic. For anyone holding positions of power, be they bosses, clergy, heads of departments, politicians, or even parents, empathy must be fostered by learning to listen to others. The department head who fires an underling because of office gossip, without taking the time to look at the whole picture, fails at being empathetic. When power becomes absolute, the ability to empathize is sacrificed.
With love in Christ,
Photo: The most recent aerial photo of All-Merciful Saviour Monastery.
Monday August 12, 2013 / July 30, 2013
8th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Apostles Silas and Silvanus of the Seventy and those with them: Crescens, Epenetus, and Andronicus (1st c.).
Martyr John the Soldier at Constantinople (4th c.).
New Hiero-confessor Anatole II (Potapov, the "Younger") of Optina (1922).
New Hieromartyr John deacon (1918).
Uncovering of the relics (1484) of Venerable Herman of Solovki (1479).
Hieromartyr Polychronius, bishop of Babylon (251), and Martyrs Parmenius, Helimenas (Elimas), and Chrysotelus presbyters, Luke and Mocius deacons, and Abdon, Sennen, Maximus, and Olympius.
Hieromartyr Valentine, bishop of Interamna (Terni) in Italy (273), and Martyrs Proculus, Ephebus, Apollonius, and Abundius, youths.
"Okonsk" Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos.
St. Angelina (Brancovich), despotina (princess) of Serbia (16th c.) (Serbia).
St. Stephen (Vladislav) of Serbia (1243) (Serbia).
Prince Tsotne Dadiani, the Confessor of Mingrelia (13th c.) (Georgia). You can read the life of the saint in red, by clicking on the name.
THANKS to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.
With love in Christ,
Donations can be made directly to the monastery through PayPal, or you may send donations to:
All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
PO Box 2420
Vashon Island, WA 98070-2420 USA
The Scripture Readings for the Day
1 Corinthians 9:13-18
15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
The Pharisees and Sadducees Seek a Sign16 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; 3 and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees5 Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. 6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
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