Kindness, empathy, and respect afforded to all

To the editor:

A Nov. 22 letter to the editor referred to a “truth that kindness, empathy, and respect should be afforded to all”. This writer also mentioned these true and noble goals, along with compassion, in other letters (c.f. Nov. 8, Nov. 10, Nov. 13-14).

KINDNESS and COMPASSION: When considering what is kind and caring, any behavioral interventionist has learned that part of dealings with others often necessarily includes “tough love.” That is one of the most difficult challenges in parenting, teaching, and daily interactions with anyone we encounter. It might be easier to avoid the tough part of love in the short term – but a deeper love will consider what is best in the long term. It is not loving or kind if we abrogate our responsibility to help a person who is convinced that something is right which is really destructive. It is not loving or kind to support them and let their wrong way of thinking adversely affect them and others.

EMPATHY: Being truly empathetic and putting oneself in another’s place is a skill we have to work at our entire lives. Empathy includes understanding that another person has struggles that are as difficult, or more difficult, than one’s own. Empathy does not include saying that what someone is doing is acceptable if it has a far-reaching, negative impact on lives. Being empathetic means caring so much that one will point out the harmful consequences of another’s lifestyle.

RESPECT: It is so challenging to lovingly and respectfully point out when someone else is involved in something that will head them in the wrong direction. Here is where it is easy to fail in the heat of the moment, and when we do we need to ask forgiveness. That doesn’t mean we should take the easy way out and say, “Oh, well, I don’t care enough to make the effort.” So the goal is to approach the person as respectfully as possible, while avoiding giving the impression that something that is harmful is acceptable.

Finally, one might ask questions from another perspective. Are those who are proponents of the LGBTQ narrative being kind, empathetic, and respectful of those who are firmly convinced that children, among others, should not be supported in a certain matter but rather lovingly guided in another direction? Is the tone of their discourse always kind, empathetic, and respectful to those they are addressing?

On either side there might be a tendency to be rude, sarcastic, and condescending rather than kind, empathetic, and respectful. There’s the challenge for all of us.

Mary Thom

New Ulm


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