Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Everyday Humanity

There's a funny thing about the way we human beings tend to think. Because it is your brain, your heart, and your body, and because you are the spirit inhabiting them, you have a tendency to thnk more about yourself than about others from day to day. This thought process should not be mistaken for selfishness. It's only natural. Because your joys, sorrows, peace, and pain are for you alone to experience, you feel them more acutely than those of anyone else. This is how we are.

However, this natural phenomenon can become a less-than-innocent vice if too long ignored. In this state of self-awareness, it is easy to become less and less aware of the emotions of those around you. The real catch, however, is this - all those people you see and interact with every day are feeling their own pain and sorrow just as closely and sharply as you are feeling yours. The fact that you cannot feel what another feels does not lessen the gravity or depth of the emotion in their own heart. It is still there - but so easily goes unnoticed.

I would beg my readers to remember the feelings of those outside themselves - whether they be friend or enemy, acquaintance or kin, stranger or family. No matter the circumstances, no matter what barriers may divide us, we are all part of the same whole - humanity. We are all people, no matter where we come from or how we think or what we do.

We all have felt pain, and just the same have known joy. We know what it is to be hurt, and also what it is to injure. We have known days of sunshine, and days of cloud. We have experimented with faith, each trying to find his way in a world that offers few anwers. We have experienced both excitement and dissapointment, both euphoria and despair. We have all felt the cherished love of another human being, and in turn have loved over again. We have all felt the agony of loss, the darkness and sorrow of grief. We have known happiness and sorrow, peace and pain - every single one of us.

I think that this deeply egrained humanity is a keystone to the admonission to "Mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." Comfort without experience is empty - mere pity, nothing more. If someone comes to you in need of comfort, look deeper than that. Look into your own past, your own memories, your own feelings. Look deep enough, and I think you will find that you have felt what that comfortless soul is feeling before, even if under different circumstances. And when you have experienced the feelings of another, it will become infinitely easier and infinitely more meaningful to give them the respite and peace they need.

Remember, too, the one who did this same thing for each of us. He willingly experienced all our sorrows and pain, so that he could bring us the joy and peace we seek. It is a miracle simply to know of that sacrifice - and more of a miracle to feel it at work in yourself. "I shall not leave you comfortless..." "My peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart by troubled, neither let it be afriad." "Therefore, continue on your journey - for behold, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end."

So it is, and so it shall be. 'Til we meet again, my friends...


  1. Beautiful thoughts as always, Rachel. Though sometimes I feel I presume too much when it comes to other people's feelings. I can *try* to imagine their pain, but if I fail (which I'm sure I do and often), am I just being pretentious in empathizing with them?

  2. Not at all - I don't think so, anyway. It's hard to try and visualize everyone's feelings with accuracy. I think that they trying is half the battle - and the other half is having the person in question help you understand. For example, one of my roommates had a younger sister to whom she was very close pass away last year. I have no idea what that sort of loss feels like, or what she must have gone through. But I have lost a relative, so I have a little understanding - and what I don't fully comprehend, she has explained to me. So both having felt similar (though lesser) feelings, and with her help, I am able to empathize with her more completely. Does that make sense?

  3. Yes, it does. I guess the thing to realize is that you'll never fully be able to understand another person's feelings no matter hard you try -- all that matters is that you do try.