Some folks think that if we understand why someone does something harmful, and perhaps find empathy and even love for them, it means we have to act a certain way. Basically, they think it means we’ll let them do whatever they want. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Reality is that understanding some reasons why someone behaves a certain way, and also finding empathy and genuine love for them, allows us to act less from reactivity and more from a sane and practical view. I am more able to act in a way that’s more kind and wise, and makes more practical sense.
I was reminded of this when I read about a political debate where one (Per Fuggeli) advocated understanding and empathy for refugees, and someone from a libertarian right wing party got upset about that idea. He seemed to think that understanding and empathy meant we had to accept everyone wishing to come to our country to live. That is, of course, a very naive way of looking at it. (And, as I see it, typical for people from that particular political party….!)
- if I understand someone (their situation, why they do/say Y) it means X
- if I understand / love/ have compassion / empathy for, it means this particular action which I don’t like (it means I’ll condone their action, support their action, let them get away with it)
- very simplistic thinking, all it means is empathy, understanding, it doesn’t lead to one prescribed action
- still free to act in the way that seems most kind, wise, makes most practical sense etc.