When you see yourself in others, it is impossible to hurt anyone else.
Are you able to transpose the humanity you experience personally, upon total strangers?
When you see another human, in media or in person, can you transpose their experience upon yourself, such that you can feel the compassion for them, that you would hope another feels for you, were you in similar circumstances?
I think that is truly a litmus test for anyone.
When we watch a movie, tv show, play or read a story/novel, we are slowly lured into a voyeuristic experience of studying the circumstances surrounding a person, or group of people, with whom we begin to identify. By the end of a great experience like that, we are so enveloped in their character, that we are overwhelmed with emotions surrounding their experiences and we care deeply about their outcome.
How interesting, then, that we can objectively see a stranger in person, or in media, and we are left with substantially less interest or compassion than that which we feel for a fictional character.
Once we transpose our humanity, personal feelings and concerns atop another being, our empathy escalates considerably. When we watch footage of refugees migrating quickly to save their family from peril, it can be reduced to a news clip in our mind, and muted in our compassion category, so as to not dive deeply into the pain and sorrow that others are experiencing. In doing this, we are removing any degree of our humanity and thereby we reduce their experience to a video clip we see and most likely forget in a short window of time.
When we see a schizophrenic on the street, plagued by voices we cannot possibly hear, are we transposed into the hellish world they are living in? Do we wonder how or why they are forced to cope with this altered reality, while our reality is so much easier to exist within?
For me, the hardest of the lines to cross, in accepting an aphorism of this nature, is transposing these degrees of empathy and compassion atop those who would do me, or someone I love or care about, harm. Once we are able to discern that line of distinction, I find the absolute acceptance of such a high level concept to be unattainable (for me).
I am fascinated by thought processes such as this one. The reason I choose to write about them is because, in opting to draft my own (openly exposed) thoughts, I find a few minutes of every day to spend contemplating things other than the traditional logistics of my own life and business requirements. In my choice to write about them, I force myself not to accept every aphorism or enlightened thought as being defacto either true or possible (in all circumstances). Even the most enlightened perspectives present quandaries to me and give me cause to truly evaluate how I honestly feel about some of life’s most difficult topics.
I can only hope that in my doing so, that I give others an opportunity to think, contemplate and do same.