We sat at the dining room table, my eight-year-old grandson and I. “Let’s draw space aliens, Mimi“, he said. We pulled out our trusty markers and a tablet.
Soon the table was filled with a fleet of aliens. If you look at the results of our drawings side-by-side, you would see one set of aliens that look like they were done by an eight-year-old and one set that looks like they were done by a professional cartoonist.
Mine look like they were done by an eight-year-old.
This boy has a healthy imagination, I think.
Good, I think.
He will be kind.
There is a link, I believe, between having a robust imagination and being compassionate. Those who can imagine the pain and suffering of others, who can picture walking the path of someone else, tend to feel more empathy.
When you can put yourself into someone else’s narrative, to feel the sensations they feel, tenderness and understanding result.
Being able to imagine the cold, hunger, shame, and hopelessness of someone down on their luck inspires gentleness and mercy. Envisioning the desperation, vulnerability, and powerlessness, of those who have been marginalized, generates tolerance.
When a friend tells you about an unexpected impending divorce, when a brother divulges a stage IV cancer diagnosis, when your spouse describes a crisis of faith, you don’t need to have experienced divorce, cancer, or disbelief to feel compassion; you must have the capacity to try to imagine how you would feel in those situations.
I believe my grandson has perception and imagination; he will be kind.
“ You never really understand another person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”
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