After listening to this one man, I've seen both sides of the argument. I don't think this happens very often, in fact, so often I hear people arguing for 'their side' without ever really listening.
I see people putting up their side of this issue (for or against) in magazine articles or on the internet. Most of them, to me, are simply saying 'MY SIDE IS RIGHT AND YOUR SIDE IS WRONG'. This doesn't feel to me like it will bring us to a good conclusion. These statements don't encourage empathy. Instead, when I read those statements I feel that it puts a wall up between 'us' and 'them'. I see it as the exact opposite of building empathy. Here's an example of some of these kinds of statements:
I believe that the way to come together and truly listen to those we see as opposite (liberals and conservatives, meat eaters and vegans, religious and nonreligious) is for us to have empathy for the other person. I used to think that what was important was to give people the facts, or to listen to another person's facts. If we all knew all the facts, I reasoned, we would all come to the same conclusion. Now I realize that I was making the mistake of seeing people only for the conclusions they have reached and the facts they have at hand. Or I was only seeing their level of intelligence (if they don't get what I'm talking about it's because they aren't smart enough). I wasn't always thinking about their feelings, or trying to see the emotions they used when making their decisions. I don't think I was really listening to them the way that I should have.
In this country (the U.S.) we currently have certain rights under law. I believe that there is fear now, real fear on the part of some U.S. citizens that their rights will be taken away.
When I think about this man and his feelings, I remember his fear. It reminds me of the real fear I get inside when I think about someone taking away my rights, or the rights of women in general. The fear expressed by the gentleman I spoke to feels the same, to me, as my fears.
As Mark Ruffalo and Murray so eloquently put it, empathy is feeling what someone else is feeling.
Have you been able to 'see' someone else's side in a discussion, someone you thought you would never agree with?