If we could understand the nuances of empathy, often the missing link in ignorance and conflict, the world would truly be a better place for all.
How well do we understand what we're referring to as our "space?" I'm not sure.
Let's say that in the context of human interactions we can identify C waves (connoting cognitive interactions,) E waves, (connoting emotional interactions,) and P waves, (connoting physical interactions.) To simplify cognitive waves can be described as any form of understanding, while E and P waves are variables that affect our ability to understand. In other words, how we feel about our learning, and the environment we learn within, are pivotal elements that determine largely how well we actually learn in the cognitive domain. Since Descartes we've generally accepted that C waves were the independent variable, but what if in fact E and P waves create authentic constraints; challenges to our ability to comprehend and fully understand the phenomenological realities, our environments, and the people we encounter within them?
Empathy is often confused with sympathy but the difference is very important to understand. From https://www.diffen.com
Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings of another person. It goes beyond sympathy, which is caring and understanding for the suffering of others. Both words are used similarly and often interchangeably (incorrectly so) but differ subtly in their emotional meaning.
Steven Van Bockern as posted here,Steven went on to say in response to a question about what to do if your cultural tail is really, really bad. My colleague David Nicholson asked him, "do you just metaphorically cut it off?" Steven said no, you can't do that.
The cultural perspective we all hold is shaped by our experiences as influenced by our birthplace, our family, our spirituality and the zeitgeist within which we were born; it’s the cultural reality lens we look through. Our cultural identity starts to form beginning the moment we’re conceived. Obvious physical characteristics and genetic traits define our culture in part from that second. After we’re born, the evolving cultural identity we form is largely influenced by our relationships and surroundings. Steve Van Bockern, coauthor of “Reclaiming Youth at Risk- Our Hope for the Future” refers to the influences of different cultural aspects as our cultural tail. I had the pleasure of attending a retreat with Steve on the Morley Indian Reservation west of Calgary in 2002. He explained that we can’t cut off our cultural tail; it’s always there, behind us affecting our perspective, but also that great things are possible in everyone’s future despite this tail that follows us.
Whether good, bad or indifferent, our cultural tail tells the story of where we’ve come from; who we are in terms of how our environments affect us, but it doesn’t have to predict where we’re headed. From a cultural perspective, in many ways we begin our lives rather innocently. Like clay to the sculptor, we start as unformed material yearning to be molded and shaped into a more tangible form; our growing cultural identity. Just as soon as we see the light of the world we begin forming perceptions and feelings about our culture and how we are different from, or similar to others. We are the sum total of what we think we are.
Steven elaborated that our cultural tails are metaphors. They are tails that follow us everywhere we go; they're always behind us waving back and forth, but also that this reality doesn't dictate the direction in which we're heading, that's up to us. I would elaborate further in saying that our cultural tails can also be described as cultural tales; the phenomenological realities of our past, the stories that have already been written. These are the things that have shaped and formed us through experience. They are the building blocks that helped us form our purpose (or lack thereof) in life, the degree to which we became resilient, or not, how we objectify things, and how much antifragility we were able to manifest as a result of the strains caused by them. We all have a story, a narrative representation of every experience, every feeling, every relationship, every success, and every disappointment we've ever experienced. It's our phenomenological reality, and we don't make enough effort to get to know each others. In order to be influential positive conspirators in the writing of other people's stories, we need to be empathic.
The Science of Evil, by Simon Baron-Cohen. This book is an engaging perspective on empathy and the origins of cruelty. Don't let the title mislead you, however. By reaching into the extremes of evil from an analytical perspective, Baron-Cohen is able to present readers a very broad, but clear position on why empathy is critically important to humanity. He uncovers the science behind empathy providing us with much to mull as we navigate the complex people and systems we encounter every day. This book is important for anyone seeking a different and authentic path to more effective human interaction and a more hopeful influence on others. The author posits that we need to look through a more empathic lens in attempting to understand not how people feel, but rather why what they feel (or don't feel) makes them do the debilitating things they do. When we look through this altered lens we can stop blaming the person for the problem, but rather the influences of their phenomenology looking for other social and environmental factors that can erode their own state of empathy and the very damaging things they say and do as a result.
There is prevailing anxiety washing over us across society stemming from a perspective that there are only two ways to look at things, the right way, and the wrong way, and of course, subjectivity is the vessel of expression for what is deemed right, and wrong. It seems like polarity is omnipresent. Until the social-emotional (Ewaves) and physical needs (Pwaves) of people are addressed in effective ways, their cognitive needs (Cwaves) will remain unsatisfied, and their potential to see any different or altered perspective will never be actualized. That will continue to be a disastrous, dichotomous conflict eliciting reality.
"I am... the world is... other people are... therefore..."
I never knew anyone who became successful by dwelling on an unfortunate past. Alas, those among us who are reflective of our past, but always glaring toward the future appear to do alright. This is the essence of resilience. Knowledge and understanding is the key to learning how to accept what cannot be changed. When we can objectify what has already happened we can then put that behind us, forgive, and begin to be a person who others are not offended or hurt by.
When we give an A we can be open to a perspective different from our own. For after all, it is only to a person to whom you have granted an A that you will really listen, and it is in that rare instance when you have ears for another person that you can truly appreciate a fresh point of view.
In the measured context of our everyday lives, the grades we hand out often rise and fall with our moods and opinions. We may disagree with someone on one issue, lower their grade, and never quite hear what they have to say again. Each time the grade is altered, the new assessment, like a box, defines the limits of what is possible between us.