What Kobe Bryant’s Death Taught Me About Redemption & Empathy4 min read

True redemption is…when guilt leads to good.

Khaled Hosseini

Do you believe in redemption?

It’s not easy to feel empathy towards someone who wronged you. It’s not easy to feel compassion towards someone who committed heinous acts towards others. We want to assume, as people, we’re inherently good (which I agree), therefore we lead with this idea that because we’re intrinsically good, we don’t lead with harm. But there are times in which challenging circumstances present themselves to us, and we have to choose––which emotion will be the more dominant one. 

I, myself, had a difficult time processing and acknowledging my feelings surrounding Kobe Bryant’s death (and I don’t know him!). However, sadness became the primary emotion for me when he, his daughter, and the rest of the passengers died. I acknowledge that people are having a wide range of feelings about it, and it feels complicated and nuanced.

I’m a highly sensitive person, which means I feel everything that happens in the world around me. But this unfortunate accident had me asking questions about how much empathy can we provide? Is there a cap? Are we selective with whom and what? Then I wondered if people are redeemable? 

Redemption Is Possible For Everyone

Is it possible for someone to redeem themselves? Redemption is never for us. It’s for the other person who seeks to make amends with the chaos they caused. I believe that road is available to everyone willing and open to walk with humility on that path

If we don’t believe in redemption, then we don’t believe in rehabilitation. And if that’s the case, then the systems we have in place contradicts this belief. But that isn’t the case. Hence why we have therapy, addiction support, and even on the far end, prisons, etc. Is there someone you’ve forgiven in your life? Ask yourself why? Is there someone who you can’t find it in you to forgive? Ask yourself why?

Empathy Is What Keeps The Light On

And when it came to empathy, I thought, is it possible to forgive the people who hurt people? That’s not an easy question to answer. But, there will be moments in our lives when difficulties challenge us to feel empathy in people who, we believe, don’t deserve it. How do we find compassion in pain? Pain and trauma can suppress this part of our hearts, rightfully so. 

But like Dr. King said, only light can drive out darkness. So in the darkest of times, I employ you to practice more empathy even on the smallest scale. If you’re not able to forgive the big stuff, then what small stuff can you practice? Even the small stuff can be hard. But when we all do this, it shifts the energy around us. It creates a kinder world.

Redemption is not just about the survival of our soul. It’s about the revival of a soul that was once dead.

Rebekah Hallberg

The death of some else typically leads us to think about our mortality and what kind of legacy we would like to leave behind. In this shortness of life, we’re faced with asking ourselves, what are we holding back from? What is getting in the way of our healing? We’re also challenged to ask, how can we contribute in a more significant way outside of our lives to benefit society? 

In the end, life is about relationships. It’s about love. It’s about forgiveness. Life is about kindness, and without empathy, we’ll continue to block any light that’s trying to get to us. But for us to get to this point in our lives, we must be emotionally agile. The rigidness of our emotions will keep the pain in and then keep the people out and ultimately––love.

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