John McCain sits in state in Arizona today. That thought lead me to read the late Senator’s farewell statement on CNN’s website.
It’s quite emotional, especially knowing what a true American hero he was, no matter if you agreed with his opinions.
One idea stood out: empathy is the key to our success and happiness in every aspect of life and, especially now, in how we treat our fellow man.
The key part where you’ll notice this is half-way through his statement when he writes (bold emphasis added):
“We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times.”
But how can we give this presumption?
We can only know what we have in common, to give that benefit of the presumption, if we listen and attempt to see, feel, experience the life from the perspective of the person or people whom we vilify.
Only then, can we truly empathize.
Only then, can we truly move beyond our differences.
Only then can we find solutions to fill the gaps, rather than create faults lines that separate us.
Earlier he writes, “We weaken our greatness…when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down….”
And empathy is the hammer to do just that.
We owe the late Senator John McCain a great thanks for his life and devotion to this country, as well as this final, important lesson and reminder.
Now it’s on you and me. To honor him, let’s ask ourselves two simple questions:
How will I empathize?
How will I tear down the walls?