Reflections by Randy Hodge
|Posted on January 7, 2019 at 11:15 AM|
When I was in college at Central Michigan University, to enter the program to become a teacher, one had to take a Perceiver Interview and score well. I only scored poorly on one question. I still remember that question. Does one need to have empathy to be a successful teacher? Here I was, a young college student who did not even know what the word meant so I muddled my way through some made up answer that was not correct - as I would learn soon enough.
After the interview, I immediately went back to my apartment, pulled out my handy Webster Dictionary and looked the word up. Empathy - the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another. Hmm. Yes, I definitely had that one wrong! For some reason, this question has never left me and instead weighs on my mind frequently.
As I become older and more self-aware of who I am, I continually look around me and realize how much I have grown as an individual recently. I believe the reason for my personal growth is due to empathy. I have started to work hard at seeing the world through the eyes of many of those in my life. Recently, I have stopped and taken a good long look at the world through the eyes of some of the following:
• Preschool students through seniors in high school
• Our parents
• Our teachers
• A social worker working with the elderly
• A soldier in the U.S. Army
• A 76-year-old stroke survivor
• Doctors, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists in many facets of hospital care and aftercare
• A pastor new to his parish and a town
• Those who serve as permanent deacons in the Catholic Church
Needless to say, and as one can imagine, getting all these different perspectives on the world and on life can significantly change a person’s way of thinking and their view of the world.
Stop and imagine a moment how the world would be different if everyone took time to see the world view of others. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. We are wired to look out for ourselves. How often do we like to talk about ourselves when we really should stop and listen to others and gain their perspective? In arguments and debates, how often do we ever stop and listen to our opponents? In our beliefs of politics, religion, sports, finances and many other areas, we often argue, try to debate and convince others that our point of view is right instead of seeking common ground, areas we can work on together or problems that can be solved by working to find the best solution.
As we begin the New Year, if you really want to make a difference in your own life and the lives of others, stop and take a good long look at those around you. Try to think about the challenges they face and why those individuals are who they are. What are the experiences in life that have shaped and formed them? How do they see the world? What about the aches and hurts they suffered through and the obstacles they have overcome? The difficulties that have arisen in their life and the hardships they face.
Maybe, just maybe, instead of scorning, looking down on, victimizing, demonizing, criticizing, ostracizing, bullying, isolating, arguing with, or just downright mean to, you will rise to the challenge and become someone’s hero. You will lift them up from the depths of despair, be their hope, their reason to rejoice, to even get out of bed and start their day, to smile or even their reason to live and make it through another day. Make 2019 the year you open the eyes of your heart, to see the world through someone else’s eyes and use that vision to go make a difference in the world because every single person matters. May God bless your 2019!