Empathy – the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else’s feelings.
I have read through posts and tweets where people have called for the “whiners” to stop crying because their candidate lost. People have called to end the protests because it just shows that they are sore losers.
What? Seriously? There is that much lack of empathy from people and especially those who claim to follow Jesus?
The thing is that this goes beyond partisan politics. For many it goes beyond not liking Trumps policies (which most of us know very little of anyway). This goes beyond lying or not liking someone’s personality. Many are hurt, offended, and afraid, and they feel the system is unjust. Many are afraid for their friends and family who are Muslim, Immigrants, LGBTQ, and people of color. The only choice for many is to protest, and I think that is a healthy thing. To call for this to end is like asking someone who feels they have been oppressed to shut up and take it. You may not agree, you may see the world differently, but I will assure you they feel very strongly that they have been treated unjustly and if you refuse to listen you are contributing to the division and violence.
I have read stories and talked to people who are very afraid, and deeply hurt by the racist comments that have been made. The more I listen, the heavier my heart becomes. I will be honest, it has not gotten easier with each passing day, it has gotten much more difficult.
My prayer is not to end the protest, but to do so without violence and for all of us to listen to the cries of those who feel marginalized, oppressed, are afraid. My prayer is not to bring unity, but to allow those who have been hurt by the violent rhetoric to be heard, only then can we begin the long healing process.
My prayer is for those who voted for Trump to actually listen to those have feel so deeply hurt by the rhetoric. My prayer is that those who feel they have “won,” will not gloat or cause more division by telling others to “get over it,” but will learn to extend empathy – to share in others’ experiences and emotions.
And if your thinking that those who didn’t vote for Trump are only causing more division by protesting, then you haven’t listened well enough.
It’s easy to sit in our own bubble and to read only those articles with which we agree with or talk with those who agree with us. This is true on both sides. If you claim to be a Christian, then at the very least you have the duty to intentionally reach out, to listen, and to extend empathy to those who are hurting and struggling.
As is true of all other things, when you are starring into the eyes of someone who his hurting and you hear with your own ears the very reason why, it is almost impossible to tell them to just get over it or stop whining. When you take the time to listen to their story, I’m willing to bet that extending empathy will be the natural thing.
My prayer for our world, our country, and most especially those who claim to be Christians is to learn to extend empathy to one another and particularly those who are hurting today.