In today’s world of extremely divided politics, little room is left for those who wish to show compassion for the other side. As a result, it seems that people who hold the political center ground are standing in a no-man’s land where little change or dialogue is happening. In the US, this seems appallingly evident, with a strong Democrat-Republican or blue-red divide among the people. Elsewhere, the same story unfolds: Us vs. Them.
Are people listening to arguments or simply resorting to petty blows and finger pointing? And how can we truly learn to understand and approach the other side?
Here are three reasons why we need to change our arguments to be more compassionate and inspire the change we find necessary.
1. ANY ARGUMENT WITH AN ETHICAL BASE IS STRONGER
Are you arguing for gender equality or climate change? You’re reading ecofemmag, so you are probably fighting for both. We’re on your side—the arguments that we make on ecofemmag directly point to the end of patriarchy and exploitation of the environment. We write these articles because we believe we are called to. We need to be heard and understood, we must be ethical and take a compassionate approach when dealing with sensitive issues, otherwise, the points we make about climate change and gender equality will not be considered relevant because the other side won’t respect us. If we act, or write, without compassion, we become partisan and divisible.
2. LISTEN TO THE OTHER SIDE
People have their own ethical perspectives that shape their worldviews, and they might be quite different from our own. They may concern concepts or cultural norms of which we are unaware, but it doesn’t mean we should remain steadfast in our ignorance. Instead, we should seek to understand them through compassion. An Indian couple, for example, may choose an arranged marriage rather than marrying for love because of the cultural importance they place on family. The point is, that by not developing a sense of deep compassion, you might risk sounding self-righteous and ignorant, not to mention alienating. There are two sides to every story, and completely dismissing the other side is wrong.
Likewise, when others disregard or disrespect our views, they usually have an easier time dismissing our arguments. Unique perspectives can’t be properly understood without compassion. And if you can’t consider all aspects of a person’s considerations, they will be less willing, or not willing at all, to empathize with your perspective.
So why is compassion the most powerful tool to inspire change?
3. EMPATHY OVERCOMES THE OBSTINATE
“Everyone knows that the yielding overcomes the stiff,
and the soft overcomes the hard.
Yet no one applies this knowledge.”
Think of this: our generation wants to change things. Change comes through inspiration. And with a single act of compassion, a person’s life can change forever. If you don’t believe this, think of the most compelling human beings that ever lived. Two of the most famous in history didn’t change anything through writing or speeches, violence, or irrefutable arguments.
Pillars of Western and Eastern civilization, such as Jesus and Buddha, never wrote down a single thing, nor did they go on an offensive campaign to promote themselves. They changed the world and the thoughts of everyone around them, including us, just by practicing empathy.
They also possessed the ability to put themselves in other people’s place and, in turn, showed compassion. In these instances, it allowed these figures to suffer the pains of others in order to fully understand them. Furthermore, they did so on non-partisan lines—with friend and foe alike.
When people are compassionate, they inspire change because they manifest a godlike ability to see and contemplate people and actions on an equal and unbiased level. They let another person’s suffering be a part of themselves in order to gain the knowledge they need to understand wholly.
By living compassionately, we can inspire others to do the same, making for a transparent and empathetic world. No arguments are needed, because when we are all on the same page, arguments are no longer necessary. What looks at us blindly in the face is the one cold truth that we so selfishly condition ourselves to avoid: our humanity.