"Empathy builds empires." - Daniel Epstein
I was having a driving lesson. Almost test ready, one thing I'm still struggling with is knowing when to give way and when to move forward with obstructions in the road. I thought it was pretty clean cut. There are rules for these things, right? There are always rules for these things.
A car approached with the obstruction on their side, so I carried on my merry way. But so did they. We both got through, but there was plenty of sucking on teeth in the meantime.
I was in the right, right?
No, not really.
Not according to my driving instructor.
I had seen the car in plenty of time. If I had just slowed down a little bit, just lifted my foot off the accelerator, we both could have got through comfortably without having to touch our breaks. Or bark out quite so many profanities.
It's never a case of right or wrong. My obstruction or yours. It's about finding the easiest possible way through for us both.
"So ... just have a little more empathy?" I queried uncertainly.
People have places to be. Important shit to take care of. Just because they technically should stop, doesn't mean they're going to.
"Yep," nodded Daren. "Empathy is understanding other people's rubbishness."
Classic Yorkshire, but it resonated. Empathy is a complex yet innate part of our make-up but we've almost mystified it as a rare skill. It's become an enigma - the ability to look into someone else's soul, rather than just keeping in mind that as human beings ... well, we can all be a little bit rubbish from time to time.
And we need to leave room for each other to pass.