A Peace of Empathy
I misused the word peace in place of piece for this piece, deliberately. I’ve been ruminating for a long time about writing this story. Not a story as much as it is an essay or a letter to myself and the planet.
The Covid pandemic is over a year old and still, the general public is masked and distanced in most public places, Texas being an exception. While vaccines of a few types are being fast and furiously distributed with the dedication to vaccinate and cure the ills of the past months, Europe suffers a third wave of Covid that has mutated. These horrid virus mutations continue to infect people while the human race tries to “Raid” it out of existence. As the battle to eradicate Covid-19 rages on, it should be the one common concern that finally brought humans together, unifying us in world peace. It could have been every Miss America contestant’s dream come true. Didn’t they all say if they had a wish that it would be for “World Peace?” What about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Didn’t he want a world of peace for all people? Instead, we’ve seen a worsening of violence, a sharp rise in hate crimes, and social distance that has nothing to do with the Covid virus.
Being aggressively offended about everything and anything from the distant past to projected future events, which may not even occur, has made the cancel culture exceedingly popular and political. This is completely anti-empathetic and does nothing to advance us to world peace. Perhaps it isn’t the goal of these highly critical groups of activists to promote humanity, to live harmoniously, and freely among other living beings.
As a freelancer, I have to supplement my income with a sustaining work-from-home customer service job. In a recent virtual meeting with my coworkers, we had a training to enhance our skills with handling calls. This lesson was on empathy, a subject that I have been trained well at other workplaces by professional occupational therapists specializing in human behavior. What appalled me was the lack of empathy for us, the employees who must deal with irate and disturbed callers. We were led in what I call “faux empathy” lessons, or an acting class. The kind of empathy that is scripted in which the more successful you become at “faux empathy” the closer you come to being an Oscar-winning actor.
Faux empathy does not help promote cohesion between two or more individuals. Now is a time where real empathy can be the difference between perpetuating a “cancel culture” or inspiring a “supporting culture.” By supporting culture I mean one where groups of people activate to influence the masses to be affirming and non-condemning. Being empathetic requires a commitment to interacting respectfully with anyone, giving them space to express their feelings, and looking within to recognize a point of commonality between them and yourself. Real empathy cultivates a deep and courteous exchange that brings about a union of the most productive kind.
Being an activist for peace brings to mind Sadhguru, a yogi and mystic known all over the world, even in the USA, he has a strong and growing group of followers, or should I say, volunteers. Volunteers who are involved in just about every kind of humanitarian, social, and environmental issue in the world today. I found him on YouTube a few years ago and his teachings have inspired me to be a willing activist for peace on this planet and take it to a more active level. In one of his talks, he said the basis of spirituality is not about restrictions, dogma, and birthrights. Spirituality is not interested in who your father was. Spirituality is about who you are, where want to go, and what you want to accomplish. It’s important for humanity to aspire to grow as humans creating a value-driven life and be a culture of values.
If you’d like to hear Sadhguru put perspective on how we can simply get along with others and live productively and peacefully watch this video from 2018. It is nine minutes long, but a relevant message for today’s social and political atmosphere, plus he has a charming sense of humor.
My hope is that as a society we can cancel the “cancel culture” and be more empathetic and sensible about how we react and express our feelings of dissatisfaction about issues and events happening currently, and unfavorable facts that come to light about past history. Let’s listen openly and come together on steps we can take in stride to bring peace to the world. Let’s be a solution-seeking society striving for a balance that will soothe and quiet tensions among and towards other human beings.Author: Karen Nish Nishimura 3/25/2021
#stopcancelculture #peace4theplanet #empathy #peace #sadhguru #martinlutherking