Reflection on Empathy

I remembered that in my youthful days, my friends and I would find a nice day to sit in front of of a train station or bus terminal and do some ‘people watching’. We would then make up stories about the ‘chosen’ ones, why is he walking so quickly against the traffic, why does she have a notepad in her hand, why does he look worried, why is she smiling… ? We did not really have a full fledged story on anyone, that was not the intent.  It was just an exercise (game) to check how observant we are, and how quickly we can catch the mood of our objects, and tell a compelling story, well, at least the opening of the story.

It’s not until the past two weeks did I find out the name of the exercise/game that my friend and I played is called connecting-imagination-and-creativity-to-empathy. 😀

The story of the Blinds and the Elephant has been retold many times. Each of the blinds insists their version of the story is true, but none actually ‘sees’ the whole story. What each ‘sees’ is merely a single story. While each one’s subjective experience is true, it may not be the whole truth.

6 single stories!

6 single stories!

The discussion of empathy recently reveals another layer of the story.  It is the empathetic view of those who happens to know that they are merely single stories, and fully understands the subjective opinion each holds, AND makes an effort to tell the whole story.  If the blinds admit that they are blinds, and are willing to accept new concepts, great! But if the blinds do not even accept the fact that they are blind, and continue to insist on their single stories, then they may never ‘sees’ the whole truth.  May we all have the wisdom to find the multiple stories!

3 thoughts on “Reflection on Empathy

  1. Your remark, “It is the empathetic view of those who happens to know that they are merely single stories, and fully understands the subjective opinion each holds, AND makes an effort to tell the whole story,” was an excellent conclusion! The image and this quote were made for each other.

  2. Preference, Thank you for your comment. Do you think that those people who make an effort to tell the whole story are often unappreciated and misunderstood? After all, a saint in an insane world is insane?

    • Absolutely, Joanne! An audience usually consists of multiple single-story holders and anyone with a different story, especially the “whole story” is bound to be rejected.

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