(This particular episode of On Being with Krista Tippett has sparked so many thoughts in me, I feel the potential for more posts.)
This podcast is a conversation between the host Krista Tippett and Richard Davidson, the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The overarching theme of their conversation is how emotion and intellect are interconnected in us, especially as learners. While that may seem like an obvious statement, how many times in our culture is intellectual maturity and growth valued over emotional maturity and growth?
Davidson says that thought and feeling are intermingled in the brain and inform each other. This is an important statement to explore for our American culture. We are so focused on the intellectual areas of education from preschool through post graduate studies, we tend to dismiss “softer” qualities in people, work, and communities. Kindness is seen as a luxury. If we have time, we stop and help someone. For so many people, serving others is relegated to extra “volunteer” time.
What if we prioritize kindness and compassion equally alongside knowledge in our school curriculum? How would that change the school culture and our national culture?
Tippett and Davidson address the question: Can we cultivate compassion?
Richard Davidson says that we are hardwired to learn compassion just as we are to learn language. We have a biological propensity for both. Both need to be nurtured, modeled, used for the child to learn.
So, what if we nurtured and modeled compassion intentionally as parents, care givers, teachers, neighbors, and pastors? What if our children and young people knew that we, as a nation, value that “soft” trait as much as intellectual prowess?
I like to think that would change the world.
What do you think?