Henry David Thoreau was on to something very crucial for our time when he asked, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” Empathy is a gift that enables us to take the perspective of another, to see the world through their eyes, and to deeply connect with them in a way that wouldn’t be possible without this special gift. Yet this is a gift we all have access to. It enables us to see and hear echoes of another in our selves. It is in this way that we come to understand what may or may not be in our own experience, but which allows us to relate to, appreciate, and even feel compassion for another through the deep knowing and connection that occurs when we really listen to their experience. And all of this happens without judgment, which is exactly what allows for a deep connection to occur, which is also how the long journey to peace begins. “Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world,” as Barak Obama said.
Think of a time when you were given the opportunity to see with the eyes of another, listen with the ears of another, or feel with the heart of another. Tell the story of what this was like for you, before, during, and after the experience of connecting deeply with another. How did this transformative moment come about? What changed for you? How were you a different person after this?