One of the things I teach and put into practice is to build up the ability to show empathy toward others. One way to do this is to START by accepting someone else’s “reality” as fact WITHOUT adding your preconceived notions or personal opinions. Then say, if their “reality” is TRUE, how would I feel about it if I was put in the same situation? Next, ask how would I react in the same situation. Finally, decide if the situation in question is something that requires additional attention. If so, take action. If not, accept it and move on.
I have read so many articles and posts about the Zimmerman trial and its aftermath. In most cases, people have not tried to use empathy to understand what MIGHT have happened between GZ and TM. Let me help.
GZ felt threatened once the confrontation started. I get it. Did he have to shoot TM? Don’t know, I wasn’t there. I do know that if I had a gun and “had” to use it, I probably would have done it too. His “reality” was shoot or be beaten to death.
Next, ask how you would feel if you were in GZ’s shoes? I think this is the easy part. How many of us can at least imagine what we would do if we were put in a life-threatening situation?
TM was profiled as a “suspect”. I don’t know for sure if he was or wasn’t about to do something wrong in that neighborhood. Again, I wasn’t there. I do know that TM had the right to be there and he also felt threatened. His “reality” was to fight for survival.
Ask how you would feel if you were in TM’s shoes? I think this is the hard part. How many of us can imagine what it feels like to be a treated like “suspect” and followed?
(I wrote an article that speaks to my experiences as a “suspect” to help you with the hard part… The George Zimmerman Trial and Racial Profiling.)
Finally, decide if the situation is something that requires your attention. People who post their opinion in places like this believe they should “get involved” by speaking out. However, have they gone through the basic steps I provided about building empathy for all parties BEFORE “getting involved” and voicing an opinion?
I respect everyone’s opinion, even those who have opinions that have been way out of bounds on both sides of this situation. Some of GZ’s supporters have expressed outrageous opinions. Some of TM’s supporters have expressed outrageous opinions. Do you think they tried to use empathy to understand this tragedy?
I suggest that everyone tries to build their ability to use empathy as a way to better understand this tragedy. Then the healing process can begin.