Shut Up....Please, I Do Not Think You Know What Empathy Means.

I keep my rules on my Facebook page and social media sites very minimal.  Through the years I have had to remind people that when I introduce a controversial topic, I expect everyone to honor other people, not just opinions.  If anyone...ANYONE...begins to cross that line, I shut it down. Period.  I have multiple reasons I suppose, but mainly, there are lots of pages where a person can go to get into arguments, degrade others while maintaining that you are only trying to persuade them, and basically shout to your heart's content that you are right and others are wrong.

This is not going to happen on my pages.  Period.

I have only blocked a very few.  A few I have asked simply not to post anymore.  Recently, a post generated some discussion and someone, someone I have never had a conversation with before, stopped by, addressed me with labels and then sought to tell me they empathized with me.  

My pages, across social media and the internet, are intended to foster people on their spiritual journey to know God.  It does not take much time to read a few of my posts, watch a video or two, read breath prayers, to pick up on this.  I don’t go to other pages to engage in the debate much either.  One thing I seek to avoid doing at any time, above maybe anything else, is to label another person.  Period.  Precisely because it does with Soren Kierkegaard notes, you are negating another person.  

Empathy does not do that.  In fact, I do not think we even know what it means anymore or how our words, written within the context of opposing opinions, must be carefully chosen if we want to convey or express empathy.  I want to note where the issue breaks down looking at a simple definition of empathy:
the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions: the ability to share someone else's feelings.” (

Simple, right?  Not once you apply a label to a person.  A label is for noting the size of an article of clothing.  A label identifies something.  When you label another, in the course of conversation (especially debate), you remove the “person,” the “someone.”  I think it is worse than creating a “strawman” because labeling is directed at another human being, a person, directly.  

Yes, of course, you and I might apply labels to things we believe.  We might identify ourselves with a religious belief, a political party, a profession, but labeling removes the person from the equation of conversation.  And once you remove the person, you are no longer sharing their experiences and emotions.  You are negating them.  You are negating the person.

I am a Christian pastor, a spiritual director, a writer, a Star Wars fan, a hunter, a backpacker, and many other words with which I identify myself.  Those can be used to describe me or they can, and in a conversation, easily twisted and tainted with condescension.  In a civil discourse on a controversial subject in social media?  Don’t insult any of is VERY tempting to do this and sadly, it is.

On my pages, I won’t accept it.  Period.

While at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, I recently picked up a book written by one of the monks there, Elias Marechal, entitled, “Tears of An Innocent God.”  I am slowly making my way through his writing as part of my daily time with God.  One of the words he introduces is one very foreign to the Christian faith, maybe even shunned because of its origin and connotations are given.  

The word is “Namaste.”

In his chapter, “A Beggar’s Final Words,” Brother Elias tells the story of a beggar who is dying and shares his last words with a nun, present with him, and comforting him.  As he takes his last breath, she folds her hands in the direction of the beggar and offers a gesture of “namaste.”  What is it?  In Brother Elias’ simple explanation, it is an honoring of the sacred energy of another person.  In essence, we are giving respect to the heart, soul, and mind which our Heavenly God has granted everyone with.

Namaste is not an Indian or Hindu term alone, though it might be labeled that.  It is just as confusing when anyone tries to tell a Christian from the Middle East they shouldn’t call God, Allah, though that is the word for God in their language.  

Namaste is more than a gesture, it is a way of viewing others as a person, in the way God, in the person of Jesus, looks at us and came to us.  This is one more reason I love the name, Immanuel, for Jesus, for it means, “God with us.”  God thought more of us than to label us lost, God came to us in the greatest gesture of namaste.

I will strive always to offer to you namaste, to try to live as Immanuel.  When you are with me in person or on my websites.  I will try to share your experiences and emotions and I ask you seek to give the same courtesy.  Just know, if you cannot, I may simply ask you, in the nicest way, “shut up...please, I’m trying to love you.”

Namaste.  Lord have mercy.


  © Blogger template Webnolia by 2009

Back to TOP