Dear Granada Family,
Assalāmu ‘Alaykum! As you all know, next week begins our annual Read-a-Thon, and in the previous week’s blog I mentioned the dual purpose of the Read-a-Thon itself: to promote reading and to raise needed funds for the school. However, what I did not mention was the theme of this year which will be empathy.
Describing the term empathy does not do it justice. Simply put, it means to understand another’s feelings and emotions to an extremely high degree. But what does this really mean, and why is it our theme for this year?
It goes without saying that this year has been an excruciating one for all of us, not just locally, or nationally, but globally. It has become a time of extreme uncertainty and improbable probabilities. If that sounds a tad nihilistic I mean no harm, but what needs to be said should not take a backseat to falsify the reality of what we are bearing. And this is the issue: we are all bearing the circumstances and consequences of a seeming endless pandemic that has affected the mindsets, moods, and even the personalities of everyone around us -- including our loved ones. The problem is that we cannot ignore nor push aside the feelings and perceptions of the people around us. We cannot simply tell people to grin and bear the hardships without providing a measure of comfort and understanding.
Prior to World War II, the United States was entrenched in the The Great Depression. Lasting from 1929 to 1939, the American economy was in terrible shape. With little hope for the future, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did something more than just enact economic reform and policies designed to reinvigorate labor and economy. He did something that was a model of leadership in a time of lost hope; he began to reach out to the American public through weekly radio announcements in the evening known as the Fireside Chats.
FDR gave a total of 30 chats over the course of his presidency, and although these chats were not the sole reason for getting the US out of The Great Depression, what it showed was that his leadership was built upon creating bonds and connection with other people, namely the citizens that elected him to lead. Being elected to lead does not mean a leader can run roughshod over the citizens of his nation by unilateral decree or personal will; a leader is one who serves by serving his people. In this one example by FDR, we saw a leader who became an exemplar of leadership, all of it founded on the basis of empathy.
If you listen to the recordings of his chats, you will see a leader who reached out to his fellow citizens through a common cause and shared struggle. Their struggle was not their own to bear, but he bore it as well. The language he used was also simple that any one in the nation could understand and relate to it. He began his speeches with “My friends” or “My fellow Americans,” and using simple nuanced language these words and phrases allowed people across all demographics to feel like he was talking directly to them and not any one particular section of society. Simply put, this is a prime example of empathy and it was this trait that aided him in becoming a three-term president -- the two term limits for US presidents (the 22nd Amendment) was enacted later.
Aside from the history lesson here, what I really want to emphasize is that empathy should not be perceived as a weakness, an insignificant trait, or gender specific. Many across the landscape of leadership consider it an “alpha” trait. Research has shown that this essential trait builds companies and nations, and it is our genuine hope that our children will embody this and utilize it in their lives amongst their friends and foes alike.
Next Week @ GIS:
PTSO Read-a-Thon Begins October 12th
Monday is a half day for Teacher-in-Service Training; school ends at 12
Thursday’s Spirit Day is Character Dress Up Day
Book Recommendation: Emotional Intelligence; Why It Can Matter More than IQ
“Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until "Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman's brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our "two minds"--the rational and the emotional--and how they together shape our destiny.
Through vivid examples, Goleman delineates the five crucial skills of emotional intelligence, and shows how they determine our success in relationships, work, and even our physical well-being. What emerges is an entirely new way to talk about being smart.
The best news is that ‘emotional literacy’ is not fixed early in life. Every parent, every teacher, every business leader, and everyone interested in a more civil society, has a stake in this compelling vision of human possibility.”
Contemplative Quote: “A Man doesn’t have the time to spend half his life in quarrels.” --Abraham Lincoln
If you are looking for internal solace, try to act on these words from President Lincoln. Today it seems that no matter where we turn our attention, people are quarreling over the minutest of things. Whether they be presidential candidates, adults on the street, or even family members, we see that so much of lives can be conflict ridden. It is in these moments or moments where we can proactively remind ourselves that our lives should be free of unwarranted and unnecessary angst that robs us of our tranquility. The Prophet Mohammed (s) was always known for his tranquil behavior, and no matter whom he(s) was facing, he(s) returned a good word for every bad word that may have been uttered his way. Thus, he lived his life not just free of useless diatribes between people, but also in a state of internal and external harmony.