“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Our world has become a dangerous and confusing place to live. Innocent people–even those who have dedicated their lives to keeping peace and to helping the community–are senselessly murdered, and they are often killed by another person who doesn’t even know them or who doesn’t have a personal quarrel with them. The murderers are simply others who have completely lost empathy or the ability to care.

Empathy is “the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings. It is an identification with and an understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.”

If a mass murderer stopped to think about all of the children that he was leaving fatherless or motherless before he began randomly pulling a trigger, he might reconsider his senseless taking of lives,  but mass murderers seem to have lost the capacity to think empathetically. And mass murderers are not the only people who lack empathy. Lack of empathy is global and it is poisonous. It is at the root of greed and wickedness. It also enables simple misdeeds, like the abandonment of children so that a parent can pursue another romance or whim. Lack of empathy also allows the selfish social climber or the power-hungry to run over everyone that they feel is blocking them from reaching their goals. Lack of empathy is destructive on many levels.

I write about the problems associated with lack of empathy quite often. People from every country in the world have read one of my blogs, which, at the time of this writing, has  been viewed about 64,000 times and by people in every country of the world. Yet, I doubt if my writing has actually changed anyone else’s behavior. Perhaps it has helped other people to begin to think and to begin to look introspectively, and that is good, but In reality, my primary goal in  writing is not that of saving the world. My primary goal in writing is that of saving myself.

Writing is the way that I refresh my own awareness of every aspect of my life, and it is the way that I organize my thoughts. It is also the way that I seek to understand why people do the thoughtless things that they do, but above all else, my writing is the way that I monitor myself and shine a light on my own motives. I continuously assess myself for signs of lack of empathy.

There are people who have offended me, and I realize that I have also offended others. The dynamics of the offenses take on lives of their own. The simple and thoughtless reaction to an offense is to form a grudge or to become vindictive, but the healtheir stance stems from empathy. When people hurt me–even when they anger me–I can always discern the reasons for their behaviors–the things that have not been ideal in their lives that may have caused them to act in the ways that they do. I have discovered, however, that most people do not have the ability to see situations through the eyes of others. While mutual empathy may have allowed a situation to be resolved. lack of mutual empathy creates impenetrable walls.

It is unrealistic to believe that everyone in the world will be perfect and that all of us will cease from doing things that hurt and anger others. While I would like for that to happen, I know that it will not. But I do wish that everyone in the world would become more empathetic. I often write about denial, and lack of empathy and denial are closely connected. As long as our own states of denial enshroud us and prevent us from seeing our own behaviors, we will persist with lack of empathy. I pray that all of us could remove the gauze that prevents us from seeing ourselves. I pray for enlightenment–that all of us could become aware of our own misdeeds and the ways that we continue to offend. I also pray that we could all learn to understand the reasons that other people behave as they do–to be more empathetic.

Eleanor Roosevelt said that it is better to light a  candle than to curse the darkness, and I pray for Eleanor Roosevelt’s candle in my life, so that I can continue to examine my own behaviors, and my greatest wish for the world is that everyone else would light their own candles, too.

Think about it: If every person in the world would scrutinize himself and light a candle in his own heart, there would be no darkness at all.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Eleanor Roosevelt

©Jacki Kellum May 6, 2017

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