Friday, January 20, 2012

Magic for Muggles

I recently came across this article by J.K. Rowling and loved it. Empathy may in fact be the most powerful force around. It's so uniquely human. And it's what makes relationships valuable.

"Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s minds, imagine themselves into other people’s places. Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate or control, just as much as to understand or sympathize.
And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages. They can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally. They can refuse to know. I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do.
Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.
What is more, those who choose not to empathize may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it through our own apathy.
One of the many things I learned studying classics at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”
That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing. …
If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better.
We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: We have the power to imagine better."

No comments:

Post a Comment