Do You Feel What I Feel?

do you feel what i feel

“Weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)

I’m a huge sci-fi fan. In grade 3, I was rummaging around in an area of the school library that was probably not age appropriate for me and ran across Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. It was my gateway drug to the final frontier and beyond. Speaking of the final frontier, Star Trek: The Next Generation had an interesting character that wound up on the command deck. Deanna Troi was a character with the ability to sense others’ emotions – an empath. In the show, she routinely used this ability to provide counsel to the crew, enabling them to better face their challenges. I find it fascinating that in the late 1980s this kind of character was thought of as critical to the success of the ship. I suspect if the cast were redrawn from today’s polarized culture, an empath might not fare as well.

In this, my final blog post on the topic of Moving from Argument to Discussion, I want to us to think about the role of empath in that journey. Previous blog writers have asked us to be slow to anger, quick to listen, not just to hear but to understand, etc. But I’m not sure anyone has brought the “e” word directly into the discussion. I think they have hinted at it, however. So, what does it take to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? To feel what they feel? We will never truly know. We can’t live another’s experience. But empathy can take us at least a little way down that road. So, when we hear other’s stories of pain and hurt, especially from those who are on the margins, how do we respond? I say, especially those on the margins, because it is those stories that we hear least often, and they usually carry the most pain.

How do we respond, when someone asks, “how am I supposed to be a Christian in a black body?” How do we respond when we hear a land acknowledgment? How do we respond when Pride month rolls around?

How do we respond when people do not appreciate the fears I have for the future of my church? How do we respond when others don’t understand my heart when we disagree? How do we respond when we hear the stories of those who feel they have been used, abused, and discarded by the church? Can we empathize? I’m not asking us to throw our own beliefs in the garbage to adopt the beliefs of others. Absolutely not! I’m just saying, if we actually want to move from argument to discussion, caring deeply about what others feel is vital.

Neil Bassingthwaighte
ServeCanada Director & Interim Prayer Catalyst