Empathy

I found this quote by Thich Nhat Hanh –

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you do not blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertiliser, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet, if we have problems with our family or friends, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”

This struck a chord with me because, whenever there is discord in any of my relationships, I usually try to remedy things with ‘reason and argument’ and as Thich Nhat Hanh says, they have no positive effect at all. In fact, they usually strengthen the other person’s resolve. I once said to my wife, “Why don’t you argue with logic and reason?” and her reply was a curt, “If I do that you always win.” Perhaps we could have gone a lot further if we’d both tried understanding. Things may have gone a lot differently. Who knows?

With vested interest and entrenched positions, both in personal relationships and on the world stage, there is far too little understanding currently at large within the world. And that is a sad testament to our times.

02/01/18

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