B: It may help, in treating people appropriately, to remember that each person is really a “soul.” I’m not going to try to define this term precisely, since I think that you know what it means yourself. It connotes a deeper meaning and purpose for each person than the oversimplification that the word “person” gives, and is certainly not in the least degrading, as the word “object” would be. How would it be if we saw people as the “souls” that they truly are instead of taking them as some given object, whose purpose in our lives is to serve us in whatever way we expect them to?
With every person that we encounter in our lives, whether they be a random stranger on the street, a celebrity we might admire, a politician we may despise, the guy who cuts us off in traffic, our closest friends and family members – whoever it may be – how do our opinions of them change if we remember that the person in question eats, breathes, sleeps, works, loves, laughs, and cries just as we do? Recall that the person was once a little child, even an infant, who was largely if not completely dependent on others for support and direction in life, who has been taught by parents, family, friends, neighbors, teachers, and the general public about life, many of whom may have been ill-informed themselves, however good their intentions were. Remember that while they have weaknesses you may not have, they also have abilities you don’t have. They have worries just as we have! They want to be loved and appreciated just as we do! They seek for their own kind of happiness in the best way they know how, day after day, and while they may do things that others may see as being wrong, evil, or heartless, they are living according to whatever knowledge they have. Yes, that guy who cut you off in traffic may indeed be a jerk, through and through. But perhaps he is because that’s all he knows and how he grew up, and became that way through his ill-advised responses to life’s countless frustrations, and all he really needs is somebody to love and appreciate him enough to try to understand exactly what and who he is.
A: Buddy, you’re breaking my heart.
B: I’ll admit that my impassioned sermon may be laying the sentimentality on a bit thick. But let me ask you the following, as well as a pardon for the brief change of subject: what good does that sarcastic reaction of yours – which, of course, is not at all uncommon among, say, the general public – do for you or anyone else?
A: What good? Er…well, I don’t really care what good it does me. All I’m saying is I don’t want to hear yet another “bleeding heart” story.
B: OK, I get what you’re saying. This is probably not the right time to go into a discussion about “bleeding heart” stories, but I’ll at least state the bottom line about them, which is that one shouldn’t let sentimentality overrule rationality. My intent now is to underscore the fact that people really are “souls,” in essence, and that they are deserving of more genuine respect and consideration than what we may usually tend to give them. We would be doing ourselves and society in general a great service as we begin to learn how to love others by remembering what exactly they are. I’m not asking for you to give a donation, sign a petition, or vote to support any specific cause. My request is that you simply attempt to think of people in a kindlier way than perhaps you have heretofore thought of them, being understanding of the fact that they are people just as much as you are a person, and they are souls just as much as you are a soul. But please…don’t refuse my request simply because it sounds like another “bleeding heart” story – if you do, might you be allowing your pride get in the way? Are you afraid of what others (or even you yourself) would think of you?