Discussion demonstrates absence of compassion

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I posted a news story to Facebook last week.

I didn’t say whether I agreed with what had happened or if I was about to run out and protest.

But that one post sparked a three-way debate among a strong conservative, a staunch Democrat and a Libertarian who likes to stir the pot and just so happens to hold an undergraduate degree in religious studies.

I watched in earnest, my phone buzzed constantly with notifications of this debate, and I thought it would never end.

It started as throwing facts or the facts as each side believed, then escalated to why they truly felt the way they did, and when that didn’t work it became a name-calling game to see who could win with insults.

I’m a thinker. I’m one of those people that can drive from Point A to Point B and has either planned my whole week, my day at work or the latest version of my future. I also may not remember driving there, but I promise I’m safe.

But the conversation got me to thinking.

When we as humans don’t agree with someone, the majority cannot just have a simple debate.

You’re arguing your point, but the point isn’t getting through to the person on the other side, or perhaps that person believes just as strongly as you do about his perspective.

What happens next?

It becomes personal. Then the name-calling begins, and sometimes it just gets ugly.

I mean we’ve all heard the saying, never discuss religion or politics, and this particular conversation had to do with both.

It’s easy to see why it is difficult because if you disagree with someone based on their religious beliefs, if you argue, you are essentially telling them their fundamental beliefs are wrong and vice versa.

Sure are many more tactful ways to engage in debate.

But what caught my attention was the lack of empathy, and it’s not just this particular debate. It’s everywhere.

Our society lacks compassion.

It seems we’ve lost our ability to “agree to disagree.”

We can’t seem to step outside our own box and tune into what others are saying, if they disagree.

Listening doesn’t mean you agree. It just means you have respect for the person whom you’re talking to.

As a society we have adopted this mentality that if someone disagrees with what you’re saying, then screw you, you’re a terrible person.

Henry David Thoreau once said, “could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes?”

Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes doesn’t make us believe what they believe, but it can provide a better understanding of why they believe as they do.

Daniel Pink may have said it best, “empathy is about standing in some else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”