We’re conflating empathy with agreement on action.
There’s a huge emphasis right now on the need to listen to the experiences of people from marginalized communities, and that’s a really good thing. If you’re personally unaffected by the issues these communities face, it’s far too easy to live in ignorance and not feel the sense of urgency for change. I’ll personally acknowledge that the extent of the (peaceful) protests has raised my own awareness of just how much sadness, anger, and injustice simmers under our cultural surface. If we don’t take the time to listen, our ignorance will only deepen the wounds.
It’s extremely concerning, however, when it’s implied that listening with empathy and compassion means 1) the listener has no further place in the conversation, and 2) truth is dictated by the experience of the person being listened to. When the call to listen with empathy and compassion turns to, “Be quiet (permanently) because you have no right to speak to an issue if you don’t fit a specific profile,” there is a major problem from a Christian worldview. Abortion, for example, doesn’t suddenly become morally acceptable just because a black person shares their experience of discrimination and injustice, then states that it’s oppressive to the black community to be pro-life (something I’m seeing a lot of online). This should be a simple matter of logic, if only because multiple people who have experienced discrimination and injustice can have different views on abortion (whose view wins?). But beyond this self-evident logic, Christians believe that objective truth exists—truth that applies to all people, regardless of their demographic profile or personal experience.
Compassion doesn’t equal agreement on action.
Read the entire excellent, thoughtful article here by Natasha Crain.
Picture used by permission from Pixabay.