Empathy is the path to kindness

sir i know.jpg

In 1964, three voter registration volunteers were gunned down in Mississippi by members of the KKK for assisting black voters.  In the moment before his death, Michael Schwerner, one of the volunteers, said to the guy who was about to shoot him, "Sir, I know just how you feel."

Two of the murderers later confessed and shared Schwerner’s moment of courage in the face of death with the FBI agents who took the confessions.

"Sir, I know just how you feel."

For me, this story brings the words of Jesus to "love your enemies" to another point of clarity. At the deepest level, it's about being able to reach out & cross over to someone else's heart, even when you cannot logically comprehend them. 

I see a lot of anger & hatred on the internet. I'm sure you see it too. Some of the topics of this outrage are petty, some of them are important. We talk about being nicer to each other & spreading love instead of hate. This kind of empathy is the path to that kindness.

It's being able to look even the ugliest moment, word, or action in the face and say: "Sir, I know just how you feel."

It's the power to invite others into a space of compassion. And, perhaps, live there together. 

(historical info via Taylor Branch)