“You never really understand a person until you consider things from (their) point of view, until you climb inside of (their) skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I remember reading this passage when studying the book years ago in school. I really struggled with English Literature. I just didn’t seem to “get it”. My interpretations never quite hit the mark and I was annoyed that the people I sat with always got better marks than me. I used to sit at the back of Mrs.Clifford’s English class on a row of girls, who were always very insightful. It was a lesson in learning and humility for me.
My housemate was watching a BBC programme the other week about a choir master trying to get young offenders involved in music. I only watched a clip of it, but it was humbling to hear even one story of what had led a young lad into crime. His dad had passed away when he was very young and he’d never known a father figure. He’d got involved in drugs because he would do anything to support his mum and sister. He said he knew the risks, but it was worth taking to help his family.
We spoke about it over dinner the next day and both agreed how we need constant reminder to be humble. We can so easily judge others for their choices, especially when we perhaps wouldn’t make the same ones in our position.
What would it have been like to support my family as a young boy?
Have I ever tried to we walk “in their skin”? That is why we need empathy. We need to move beyond our own egos for a time in order to see the Other with compassion.
What was the last story that moved you to a moment of empathy?