Mixed Salad of Thoughts

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"I don't understand..."

Lately I see a lot of comments that begin with phrases like: "I don't understand why people would say..." and then go on to criticize, villainize, or dehumanize a person, a group, a concept, or an idea. I find this frustrating. Maybe it's the teacher in me. Maybe the world-traveler. Maybe the empathizer.
You will NEVER understand anything you don't actually try to understand. (pause, let it sink in, reread if necessary)
You will NEVER understand anything you don't actually try to understand.
Let's say, for a hypothetical you don't understand why anyone would advocate for laws that allow people to terminate pregnancies. I'm sure you also don't understand why when abortion was illegal there were women who were willing to either commit suicide or risk their own lives when they put themselves in the hands of virtual butchers to try to terminate unwanted pregnancies. When you can truly understand the desperation of that woman, when you can empathize with her on a human level, regardless of your feelings about abortion, you will UNDERSTAND why she feels the way she does and why people who know her and care about her or someone like her don't want her in that situation. You will understand as a human.
We'll make it even and say that you don't UNDERSTAND why someone would advocate laws that prohibit women from terminating pregnancies. You may also never have known the grief of losing a child you had loved to miscarriage, or of loving a child that might have never been born. You may not know how it's possible to attach the degree of love and attachment to a "bundle of cells" that a family that has gone through miscarriage of a wanted child has suffered. You may not know the spiritual grief an empathetic person feels every time they think of those lost children. When you empathize with this person and recognize their emotions you will UNDERSTAND why they feel the way they do. You will understand as a human.
There are no monsters here. No evil creatures with unknowable designs.
You can't understand the decisions of those you disregard and refuse to empathize with. If you cannot understand a person's decisions it does not make them illogical or a monster, it makes you ignorant of what they are thinking.

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