How do we get from indifference to empathy?

Daniel Goleman

Boarding the plane for the first leg of my flight home, I was already tired and feeling a tad impatient that it was taking so long.  My seat was near the back and I quickly realized it was a window seat next to an elderly man.  I told him I was seated there and had to wait what seemed liked several minutes for him to take action, then to get up and let me in.  The flight attendant behind him rolled her eyes upward, letting me know she understood my plight.  After all, god forbid, we should be forced to  patiently wait on anyone, no matter their age or condition, right?

I said “thank you” or “good afternoon” or something similar and strapped myself in, anxious for takeoff.  It was then I noticed that he began to shake.  At first I was a little anxious as I wasn’t sure what was going on or if he was going to be okay.  It didn’t take long to recognize the signs of what I believe were indicative of Parkinson’s Disease.  He made several attempts, finally successful; to turn his electronics off and my heart broke for him as he tried to put things away in the rushed manner that we all expect.

He seemed to want to rest and laid back and closed his eyes.  The tremors would come and go and he couldn’t help but bump into me from time to time.  I said a prayer for him as he rested and he fell asleep and I found myself grateful for the stillness….for him, not for me.

When we landed, people almost knocked him over trying to get past.  What happened to politely allowing those in front of you to disembark first?  As I sat there thinking that this could be my grandparent or my dad, it troubled me to know that some people just aren’t concerned with the plight of their fellow man.  Another woman also noticed this and kindly let him go in front of her.

I was once again, reminded that we have to be concerned with others; we need to treat people in the way we desire to be treated.  Are we so hurried that we can’t be attentive or helpful?  We should slow down and allow ourselves to think about others, how it would feel to walk in their shoes.

We live in such a busy, bustling world, sometimes we are too engaged in it to even stop and think, to let our minds wander and ponder things, to let God speak to our hearts.  It takes less effort to ignore than to care.  When we slow down and get our minds off of ourselves and on those around us, we begin to see more clearly.


  1. Sherron Cooper says:

    Beautiful thoughts!!!!! This is what I am taking away from your blog today! 🙂

  2. deanna grimm says:

    Well what another wonderful read! Through the tears that ran down my cheeks I couldn’t help but chew on this awhile. You are so right!:-) we all need to practice this everyday! Great word! Love you sissy!

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