Listening to an episode of On Being on NPR, Krista Tippett interviewed a journalist on the subject of how corporations and people who do good work for the world need to ask not only, what can I give, but also, how can I stop taking so much? He mentioned that, as individuals, we need not only to want the best for our own children but also for everyone else’s children. He went on to say that this doesn’t seem to be the value system he sees in the United States at this time and his comments got me to thinking about recent studies around empathy. These studies have revealed that there appears to be a correlation between increasing wealth and lessening empathy. When I listen to the news and look at the world around me, I see rather stark expressions of this correlation. That doesn’t mean there aren’t well-off people who express empathy in powerful, positive, and important ways. Instead, it points to an invitation to all of us who live in a materially privileged society such as the U.S. to pay attention to the world around us and to find ways to support and increase our empathic awareness and choices. Read More “733rd Week: Supporting Empathy”
Sitting in Central Park one weekend morning, a morning that was cloudy and quiet in the park, I felt a deep sense of peace radiating from all the trees around me. The quality of the trees and the environment they evoked reminded me of the Japanese practice of “forest bathing”, where people go amongst trees to soak in the healing that naturally emerges.
Attuning to the peaceful quality of the trees is, for me, similar to tuning in to a particular radio station, television channel, or on-line program… Read More “681st Week: Resonating with the Essence of Peace (Playing with Foreground/Background Dynamics)”
Walking across the park one morning, I passed a young father and his very young son. The boy was on a scooter that had pedals and he was working hard to figure out how to get the pedals to move correctly. At one point, he succeeded in getting the pedals all the way around and, as he did, his father began to say, “You did it! You did it!” Read More “Week 629: Catching People Doing Things Right”
Walking across Central Park the other day, I thought about an interview I listened to as I got ready to move into the day. Generally, I spend the morning carrying my laptop computer around with me, as I watch or listen to inspiring interviews I find on youtube and other websites. It’s a habit I began a number of years ago after Read More “Week 625: Setting the Tone for Your Day”
One of the books from graduate school that powerfully impacted me was “Blaming the Victim”. I was in a class where I focused my work on shame—collective and individual—and got deeply immersed in how we tend to blame the victim as a way to validate our beliefs and actions. The impact of that class, and particularly the above book, has never left me. It started me on a 40+ year journey of tracking my own internal process of judging and blaming, catching myself when I can and challenging my own rationalizations about what’s happening to people locally and around the world. Even with this practice, I know that there are countless times when I engage in blaming the victim, unaware of my own biases and limiting beliefs.
As I watch the current situation in the United States—and we are not alone in our mistreatment of people we consider to be “other”—I not only feel deep heartache and distress, but am also keenly aware of how vividly a “blaming-the-victim” mentality seems to have captured the minds of those in power. That this stance lacks empathy goes without saying. The deeper problem is that blaming victims allows us to remain unaware of our privilege, of our seemingly justifiable disconnection from the suffering of others. Read More “716th Week: Blaming the Victim”