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AIDS and Empathy for the Holidays

Guest Author - Sarah Elise Stauffer

Let me start with this.
Empathy: n. 1. The ability to sense and/or understand emotion(s) from another person, animal, inanimate objects incorporating stimulation to any and or all of the senses (including the 6th Sense) without verbally being told and/or without obvious visual clues. 2. The ability to be sensitive and receptive to outside emotional stimuli. - adj. empathic or empathetic., v. to empathize
Empath: n. 1. A person who has the ability to experience empathy towards another person, and/or animate/inanimate objects, in part or from all of the above definition. 2. A person who is sensitive to the emotions in others.

Last night Bono was on 60 minutes talking about fighting poverty and AIDS.
It really has to happen that we empathize. And act, and do not excuse or numb ourselves into complacency. I am a sexual abuse and rape survivor. I know Women who have had horrible health scares. It shouldn't have to happen to us or someone you love for us to open our hearts and receive the suffering of others. It's what we are supposed to do, feel and mourn for our fellow man, because we are all inextricablely linked. I am no different or better than a person in Africa, there is no emotional border. When my sister or brother not by blood but by humanity suffers, I suffer. As each child lies crying and dying, parts of me do as well. We all have this capacity. It makes life more emotional, yes. Some people are terribly afraid of emotion and try to limit, intellectualize it, numb to it, anything but connecting to it. But something happens cosmically when others witness, hear, and feel our pain sincerely, if only for a time. Everyone has limits. But we could all stand to challenge and stretch those limits. As a survivor of a horrible violent past, I can personally tell you of the healing power when someone allows my suffering to penetrate them, and genuinely tries to relate and understand and EMPATHIZE. Yes, it IS scary, it IS inconvenient to stray from our rigid ideas of reality and our perceptions and judgments. Someone I dearly love recently had a serious health scare. It connected me so much to her, the fragility of her beauty, in and out, the tenderness of her heart, and I felt physical and emotional pain for her. To the extent that I can feel my own pain and suffering, I deepen my well to hold others pain and suffering. Without that, we will all dry up and wither away into our own oblivions. If I could, I long to hold every suffering child, every grown man, and Woman. Whether it's suffering because of AIDS, religious persecution, rape, domestic violence, war, cancer, or whatever, I want to help dilute and dissolve the suffering that exists. Stuffing emotions away and relegating them as bad does not serve any of us. It clogs the heart, it disrupts harmony, it destroys understanding and true compassion. I know first hand how beautiful and horrendous life can be, and how the net of souls that humanity is, can catch us when we are falling. We all need this delicate net at times. But we have to be together and united to do it. Meditating healing love to those in need, prayer if that is what you do best, but with genuine intention and empathy. This is my purpose above all in this beautiful and strange world, my personal quest is transforming the pain into light..I am more than just myself. I hope to leave the world a more healed place than it was before I entered it. Empathy is the experiential recognizing and understanding of the states of mind, including beliefs, desires and particularly emotions of others without injecting your own. I wish this for us all this holiday season and beyond: Let us define ourselves not by what we get, but the depth of our empathy for others.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Sarah Elise Stauffer. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sarah Elise Stauffer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Andria Bobo for details.

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