I heard a really interesting discussion this morning on Start the Week about politics and division and the possibility of a hopeful way forward. Amos Oz said some remarkable and very inspiring things about reaching out to the ‘other’ and gaining greater respect for the other by demonstrating a hospitality to their life, worldview and way of being. To seek a deeper empathy and to then seek to understand more fully having empathised.
An hour before hearing that discussion I read these two quotes
“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk” Doug Larson
“If I were to summarise in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations it would be this: Seek First to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen Covey
I was also sent a weekly update on the art and importance of empathy!
It is a real art, a real challenge and a real work of grace to deeply listen and to deeply understand another person. It is however vital if we are to ever grasp true hospitality and a deeper understanding of others.
I began to read a book by Kester Brewin simply called Other but failed to get very far with it. In the book he asks‘ What kind of selves do we need to be in order to live in harmony with others?’
As I near the finish of this particular journey I am feeling inspired to pick the book up again and take some steps to better empathise, listen and engage with others to gain some wisdom and become perhaps just a bit more empathetic in the process.
Of course this whole thing does raise some other questions about the place of challenging others (but also being prepared to be challenged by others!!) and just how tolerant and willing to understand we are prepared to be? Is there a point where we need to challenge rather than empathise?