The way we live out our lives each day either adds or subtracts from our humanity. It is so easy for us to develop a shell or casing thinking it is “protecting” us from being harmed by the events surrounding our lives. The inevitable results, over time, of this life choice are individual despair and the fragmenting of society. We are wired to live in community. No matter how hard we try to resist this reality it cannot be changed.
Too frequently as we encounter family members, friends, and even strangers who are going through Chemotherapy, Radiation or other Cancer treatments we fear community. Our fear manifests itself in doing everything possible to steer the conversation away from the obvious (Cancer). We discuss shopping, the weather, sports, politics, the weather again…ANYTHING except Cancer. The kindness that can be extended simply by having the courage to recognize the importance of sharing in the fear and anxiety a person is forced to keep bottled up is always available.
Trying to live according to the Golden Rule means trying to empathize with other people, including those who may be very different from us. Empathy is at the root of kindness, compassion, understanding and respect – qualities that we all appreciate being shown, whoever we are, whatever we think and wherever we come from. And although it isn’t possible to know what it really feels like to be a different person or live in different circumstances and have different life experiences, it isn’t difficult for most of us to imagine what would cause us suffering and to try to avoid causing suffering to others.