I love reading science fiction, because at its best it offers an imaginative window into our conflicts and possible solutions. In Factoring Humanity, renowned SF author Robert J. Sawyer explores the power of empathy to transform human relationships.
In the book, SETI scientists are attempting to decipher a series of radio messages received from Alpha Centuri. A brilliant psychologist figures out that the messages, when grouped together, are a blue print for building a 4th dimensional hypercube. She builds it, activates it, and discovers she can use it to enter into the mind of anyone on the planet. She witnesses the lives of widely diverse people and is awe struck at the rich complexity of their thoughts and emotions.
She shares the technology with her husband, who is holding deep bitterness and rage against a misguided counselor whose actions led to the death of his daughter and almost destroyed his marriage.
He wants the counselor to be punished for the harm she has done, but after he enters into her mind and sees the truth of who she is and the deep childhood wounds that shaped her, he is able to let go of his burning resentment.
Ultimately, this new technology transforms humanity. Wars and murders virtually stop, the nightly newscast fills with good news, and people everywhere are infused with a spirit of compassion, truthfulness, and deep connection.
This remarkable, healing transformation comes about because of empathy and identification.
Although we don’t have a 4 dimensional hypercube to assist us, we can learn and help our clients learn, to develop imaginative empathy, to envision what motivates another, or why they see life or situations so differently from us. This process has tremendous potential to reduce conflict and increase peace and compassion.