Some thoughts, delivered on a significant occasion, about something we all share. How we share things. Everything.
Empathy is you and me
and the possibility
of making you a part of me –
and make my “me” a part of thee.
Empathy is me and you –
us, finding out what we can do
to be and feel and make a “we”;
to live together, happily.
Empathy is me and you
And whatever we will do –
travel, stay, build up a home:
you will never be alone …
because there is my “me” in you
and your “me” is with me, too.
Empathy is you and me:
to see a you,
to be a me,
to be with you,
to feel a me –
to see in you
what we can be.
Empathy is the essence of our encounters.
Empathy is the first step to anything beautiful, meaningful, creative that might happen between human beings.
Empathy is the beginning of love.
Most of us, luckily, experience such feelings in their relationships, in a friendship, in a team, among colleagues, between siblings, in their families.
We just need it. And we know it, when it comes along.
The true beauty about empathy is, it is intercultural, it is global, it is essential to mankind. It crosses borders:
There is the German Empathie, and Einfühlungsvermögen
(because in German we have beautiful long words for everything),
there is empatía española, argentina, venezolana, latina, ¿nó?
there is French empathie,
there is Dutch empathie,
there is something in Russia called soperezhivaniye,
and they have empatiye, too;
there is Faham in Somali,
Uzwela in Zulu, Upole in Suaheli,
Uvelwano in Xhosa, Chifundo in Nyanja,
there ist Kutloelo-bohloko in South Sotho,
there ist Kunzwira tsitsi in Shona …
and there is empathie, again, in Afrikaans.
You’ll find it there, and everywhere.
Just take your empathy with you.
Take it everywhere you go.
And you will always feel each other the way you are.
This poem and speech was created on the occasion of my friend Kevin’s marriage on July 1st, 2017. Six friends were asked to condense their thoughts about certain values related to the couple. I got “empathy”.
Thank you, dear Katie Hill and Kevin Lorenz, for giving me this most beautiful task. All the best in Africa, all the best for the rest of your lives! Alles Liebe.
There were two more sources of inspiration for this:
- “This Is Water. Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life”, by David Foster Wallace (his address, the only such adress he ever made, to the 2005 graduating class of a liberal arts college in the US). The most beautiful text, probably, I ever read in American English.
- „This Is It“ by poet and avant-garde filmmaker James Broughton (in 1971), which I had found (and almost run by) when it was exhibited in the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin in 2016. A cathartic experience.