There are various sayings directing us to have empathy for another. There is the American saying (said in several ways), “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Another is, “I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it” which was said by American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.
What about this quote? “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all – all but the sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (The Message). This is the ultimate statement of empathy – Jesus, our high priest who has experienced our reality and our journey in life, yet without sin.
These statements have a similar point to make. Empathy is demonstrated in what we do and how we engage with the other. To be empathetic is to take a deliberate risk, to walk in their shoes, to stand out and to experience the life of the other. Empathy is linked to an action and an outcome.
Making a decision in September to limit our drinks to water is a commitment to active empathy and hope. The empathy gives us a means of focusing for a set period of time on the experience of others by drinking water – and nothing else! In fact, given our situation in Australia, this is also a statement of our desired outcome for others – the freedom to drink safe water.
Many people in the world do not have safe water. Their water is polluted, scarce or hard to access. What we take for granted, they desire and celebrate when they have it. Safe water is one of the ways whole communities are transformed. People’s heath improves, as does their quality of life, along with their food and in many situations their income. All due to water!
Safe Water September could be thought of as empathy month. Our committed and demonstrated empathy is focused on those who have little or no access to available safe water. We sacrifice what is our choice (all other drinks) and for a month focus on the desired experience of others – access to safe water. When we do this, and we generate income, we open possibilities for communities in Zimbabwe and Vanuatu to have water that gives and sustains life. How about joining us and celebrating our abundance by limiting ourselves to safe water in September?