I’m in a position of leadership in a classroom and in a church. In both of those areas, I get to know people pretty well, and I see how they interact as peers. And I’ve been surprised to see the same basic human drama in each. Whether it’s school or church, everybody is trying to find a little slice of joy while struggling with their trials in life, and keeping up a brave front for public show. Truly, the same human drama exists in every community.
Those efforts at a brave front may have more to do with not wanting to derail the smooth machinery of the community’s activities by drawing undue attention than it does with embarrassment or pride, but it is sadly counterproductive in at least one way: our stoic repression of the heartaches we’re dealing with puts up a wall and stagnates our connection to others. I’ve seen too much hurt and misunderstanding caused by it.
People try to go about their daily lives, doing their jobs and doing things with their friends, often very unaware of just what these friends are suffering through. The hidden stress that we all keep inside often keeps us too focused on ourselves, unable to reach out to others, and constricted in our ability to express real charity.
Not that I’m suggesting that we all have more weepy pity parties. One Breakfast Club was enough, thank you.
What we seem to need even more of between the people in our schools, our churches, and indeed in every community–our families, our workplaces, our neighborhoods–is empathy. Continue reading