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Better Understanding

In the last post, we examined how understanding is not necessarily quiet agreement. Sometimes understanding is a dig for truth not readily seen or acknowledged. A kind of fierce understanding such as what I’m trying to describe, moves far beyond a passive, intellectual middle ground, instead, taking a stand against the tide of popular or militant opinion. The understanding I’m describing is so deep a connection to another’s pain or joy. This link propels actions that may move an advocating individual far from their comfort zone. With this pursuit of understanding, I so thoroughly feel the other’s experience, that I can step out and champion for changes, despite discomfort that may come to me, personally, as a result.

What am I describing? I am describing understanding as the deepest kind of empathy known to all of humankind.

During my very first grad school class, the instructor saw my frustration with another practicum participant. “You may have no understanding for the circumstances she is or has experienced. You may have experienced something so comparatively worse than she, that her complaints feel like that of a whiny child. But you know what pain and betrayal feels like. And you know that she is feeling pain and betrayal now.” I don’t need to experience every situation to know what that person is feeling. I have felt the deadening blow of betrayal. I have felt devastation in painful situations. It is not the circumstances with which we have empathy, it is appreciation that we both experienced the same feelings which connects us.

Why does this kind of understanding, this deep empathy, propel us towards advocacy? When you can feel the pain of the other, as you remember feeling it, the core of who you are is oriented towards that other person. Take this simple step today – Instead of dwelling on the frustrating grumpiness of the store clerk, wonder about the last time you had a rough day where you enacted your frustration on innocent passersby. Remember how you felt. Wonder, is this how the clerk feels? Why might that be? And so, the ground is broken in the dig for truth, empathy, and understanding.


Photo Credit: NappyStock,

We are aware of the magnitude of this subject matter and the inadequate brevity of this post. For more, please reference our podcasts, our 1Community groups, or feel free to email us at

We also wish to address our inability to consider issues of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse in our discussions on developing understanding and oneness. If you are in an abusive situation of any kind, we encourage you to seek professional and other help; and to realize that this content does not necessarily apply to your circumstances

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