It’s a holiday weekend. But more than most years, the mood will probably be mixed. Gone for now are the carefree days when the biggest decision is whether to go to the parade and when to get to the fireworks show.
This situation could just depress us and lead us to draw back into ourselves. The humble change-maker sees an opportunity in it, a chance to draw closer to those around her. She knows that she’ll encounter those who are enjoying being out, taking the small steps toward reconnection with the outside world. Others will be sad or scared or even angry.
The change-maker willingly enters into those situations with people. Even if only for a moment, he allows himself to imagine what’s driving their reactions to the circumstances. He knows that he doesn’t have to take their point of view permanently, but he moves toward them emotionally instead of pulling back. By celebrating with those who celebrate and mourning with those who are sad, he’s saying, “You’re not alone. We’re in this together.”
She does this when a stranger gives her the stink eye for walking too close on the sidewalk. He does this when a friend excitedly announces that his family is expecting a new child. She even does this when she scans the news and sees someone reacting in a way that at first puzzles or concerns her.
Some will say this is soft. They’ve never really tried it. It’s one of the hardest things to do, especially when we ourselves are awash in the challenges of a crisis. It requires a kind of self-forgetfulness that’s the true mark of someone being their best self.
I’m glad you’re someone who aspires to having that kind of real strength. Let’s use this weekend as a time to practice that kind of empathy.