Outrospection?

— Andy Wade —

This quick post is not the follow-up to my last post on redemptive flourishing, that’s still coming up. But I ran across this RSAnimate about outrospection and thought it fit well with concept of flourishing.

empathy.2To flourish is not, and cannot be, a selfish endeavor. I cannot flourish in life without also being a part of the flourishing of the lives, community, and environment around me. This understanding is bound up in Jesus’ admonition to love both God and neighbor which, in turn, is bound up in the biblical concept of shalom. As this animation points out, much of our recent history has been shaped by introspection, looking inside oneself to find meaning and purpose. But what if we turned that around and looked outside of ourselves? Empathy, philosopher and author, Roman Krznaric, argues, comes from outrospection, not introspection.

Personally I think there’s a balance to be found. Krznaric’s ideas are important precisely because they shift us away from our me-first, self-centered world view. When we look at the world around us it’s not difficult to see how introspection has greatly contributed to many of the issues of violence, hatred, and greed. But outrospection followed by introspectoin can lead us to deep, personal/spiritual change which can, in turn, lead us into new areas of outrospection and deeper levels of empathy.

I would stretch his argument to say that it’s not just personal introspection that is the issue, but also corporate introspection — as northern Europeans, as privileged, as Christian… The reality is that as groups we live introspectively and this cripples our ability to empathize with others, outside our own group.

Empathy, Krznaric insists, is not some fluffy idea, it’s revolutionary! Not only that, he argues that we need to expand our empathetic imaginations across both space (geography) and time. Check out the video below and see why he says this, then leave your response in the comments section below.