Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Cause For Empathy

I was listening to the latest Joe Rogan Experience podcast and heard a common theme arise: empathy. His guest, Stefan Molyneux, a political philosopher and blogger, stated that the two biggest ways to deviate a kid from the capacity for empathy is 1) to take away his father and 2) to take away his freedom to play.
He didn't cite a source but as a teacher I find it easy to believe his claim. Parents out there, do what he called the best solution: sacrifice your time for your kids. Live a simple life while your kids are young. Do as little work as possible without ruining your career. Be home for more than dinner and a bath. A book at night is nice, but it doesn't cut it. It's important to remember that kids need interaction. Kids need role models and role models do more than dictate words on a page. Role models need to show what they're made of. They need to move their bodies, display attitudes and actions to be replicated, and express opinions.

I'm getting a bit off subject, but empathy is at the core of my heart lately. It's at the core of my book, too. Today at work I displayed anger publicly for the first time in at least a year, maybe more. Actually, I can't remember the last time I got angry in public. I'm a bit embarrassed about it and want to blame it on my lapse in meditation lately, but there's something more to it. I failed to empathize with the person that my anger was directed toward. My mind became simple. My mind became small.

But then I realized without regret something that I heard recently from Jim Carrey of all people. He said, "Every moment is pregnant with the next moment of your life." We have to move on and we have to move on with clear heads.

He was talking about creativity and how we are all born creators, intellectually evolving through our own efforts. What that really means to me is that when we have a down moment (like we all do), the sooner we can both learn from that bummer and move on, the better we are setting ourselves up for the future. We need to both remember and forget simultaneously in order to live our dreams. We need to take chances. We need to dream big. And we need to assume that everyone else is dreaming big too. We need to assume that they are all going through ups and downs.

So, basically, those of us with the worst short-term memories and the best long-term ones will have the best chance at shaping the future that we want. To have the empathy needed to get through tough situations -- to realize that the people causing our anger might be hurting more than we are -- is the best way for us to keep our eyes on the prize of creation and stepping into the next moment of reality with clear and focused minds.
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