I have a sign, which I made, taped to the credenza behind my desk at work. It’s a low cabinet, so the sign isn’t the first thing you see, but if you’ve been there for a few minutes, particularly if you’re surveying the space while I’m away gathering some information for you, you’ll see it. It reads “The milk of human kindness never spoils; it only grows richer and more nourishing with each meal.”, and everyone seems to draw their own conclusions as to its meaning and validity.
Most people say nothing, of course, as they see it as either irrelevant to the business at hand or as likely put there as a “you can trust me” kind of gimmick. That’s okay, as our perceptions create our reality, if they perceive it as such, then that is their truth.
Others, however, be they clients, vendors, or even visiting friends, read it and ask pointedly about it. Recently, for instance, my very oldest friend (we went to Kindergarten together in 1972!) visited me at work and, upon reading it, remarked “Where’s the cynical, smart-ass, acerbic Matt I knew and loved?” Well, the smart-ass is still present and accounted for, mostly, but the other guys have left the room. My oldest friend is still my very best friend, but he doesn’t really “get” my recent change of path. He still loves me and we still hang out whenever we get or can create the chance, but he does miss certain aspects of the old me, and doesn’t really know how to identify with the person I’m becoming. I’m honestly not trying to make it hard on him, but neither can I remain who I was and be true to myself.
Conversely, when I had a pair of clients sitting in the same seats last week, they inquired directly about the sign when I returned with the bottles of water I had offered. They were honestly intrigued and this led into a protracted and delightful discussion about empathy and my upcoming books. Both were retired police officers, and very intrigued and encouraged by the concepts put forth for the books, being very attuned to the needs and lives of others from so many decades of public service.
It is that same service, in a different context of course, to which I aspire. It is to touch people, to reach out and open hearts and minds to the potential for greatness that is their birthright. To show, by example, that regardless of our beliefs, we are all irreversibly connected and what affects one affects us all. We can raise that effect globally and universally simply by genuinely wanting to, and by just loving rather than hating.
Yes, it sounds all hippy-dippy and very 1968, but there is very real content here, and elucidating that and disseminating it on a large, public scale is my mission and my calling. We are, all of us, immensely powerful and influential people, and all we need to do is to realize and embrace our capacity and our power for doing good in this world, and the paradigm shift is inevitable.
And all it takes is love. Learning first and foremost to love yourself, then to treat everyone you encounter with that same love. Forgoing judgment, condemnation and criticism in favor of tolerance, forgiveness, and inclusion.
The ancient Sufi poet, philosopher, and king Tilopa told us a thousand years ago to “Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing”. If we could just overcome the egotistic and dogmatic conviction that “I’m right and you’re wrong”, in terms of religion, politics, sex, relationships, and every other rabid conflict keeping us separated, we could finally realize that right and wrong are the most ephemeral of concepts, and unity is their only cure.
So I hope my old friends and my family who no longer seem able to identify with me will continue to hold me in their hearts, as I will with them, as I attempt to do my part to raise the vibrations and help the human race on the path to higher consciousness, compassion, and yes, to true and complete Empathy.