Alice Graduates

Words alone cannot describe the importance of compassion

The best leaders are the best followers; It’s kind of counterintuitive when you think about it. For the average person, the world “leader” invokes thoughts of power, success, unbending will, and a dependence on hierarchy. However, the best leaders our world has ever seen were not great because of these characteristics, but because they could connect to the people they led. This very ability to empathize and truly understand the thoughts, wills, and desires of the people around you is key to being a great leader. Why is this ability to relate to others so vital? As a leader, one must make decisions based off of the ideas and arguments of others. For example, Alice, while listening to the executioner, the King, and the Queen in the croquet-ground, is “appealed to by all three to settle the question” (Annotated Alice: Alice in Wonderland 88) of whether you could cut off a head that is not attached to a body. In the story, Alice diverts the question to the duchess, but in real life we cannot always outsource our problems. If we can listen to the views of others with both logical and emotional understanding, we can make the wisest decision when arguments arise. Even more important, we can unify the interests of every individual for the well-being of the whole.

I have to discover my own emotional intelligence

In this class, I have strived to grow the emotion intelligence necessary to understand those around me and ultimately become a successful leader. Almost all the readings in this class describe unique sufferings that we as students have never had to endure. Whether it is the plight of a newly immigrated Chinese woman, the abruptly ended lives of farm animals, or the loss of a whole tribe to the greed of Americans, I have had to connect my own experiences to the misfortunes of countless fictional and nonfictional characters. In a way, I can never perfectly empathize with the painful experiences of all the unique lives I have read about. Yet, I have to try. As Alice, “conquered her shyness by a great effort,” (Annotated Alice: Through the Looking Glass 262) I must break down my emotional barriers with similar effort. After all the discussions and readings of our class, the necessity of empathy seems overwhelming. I have a long way to go before I can build the compassion needed to address the needs of everyone I meet, but being able to understand the countless works we have read on a deeply emotional level is definitely a step in the right direction.

Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun, created the “Charter for Compassion.” Signed by a diverse body of people that includes the Dalai Llama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the charter holds a simple, yet deep message:

Published in: on May 2, 2010 at 2:06 am  Leave a Comment