"And his knowledge remained woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldermort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend."I find this quotation to be the heart of explaining many of the world's woes. We are all Voldermorts in our own ways. There is a place where people just don't seek to understand others. The resulting actions are callous, cold, and seemingly heartless. When confronted, the people proclaim that they do seek rightness in the world. The objects of their abuse are viewed as unworthy, unreasonable, or just wrong. I believe the root cause of this behavior is a lack of comprehension.
What is comprehension? I look to the movie "Phenomenon" for a prime example of the comprehension. John Travolta plays the man who has super-intelligence and telekinesis after seeing a bright light descend from the sky. One of his actions is to show a hunter the pain that a deer feels when it dies from gunshot wounds. The pain of the deer is channeled to the hunter who previously thought nothing of the animal's suffering. The affected man is transformed, giving up hunting now that the deer’s experience of dying is fully comprehended. This is very powerful to me. Comprehension becomes the full understanding of another's experience. A person with comprehension does not have to live or experience exactly what another does, but there is enough connection to the other's life that a person can understand or relate through comprehension.
Comprehension is almost like the Golden Rule in reverse. The typical meaning of the Golden Rule is "do unto others as you would want them to do to you". Comprehension turns this around, placing a person in a position of seeing the good, bad and ugly of the other person's experience. A new rule is created saying something like, "Do unto others because you know what it feels like". Similar to the original Golden Rule? Yes. There is a new wrinkle. Comprehension augments the Golden Rule by removing some of the helpful, but potentially misleading, selfishness. No longer is it just about what YOU want. Comprehension introduces the concept of what others what also.
Many who strike out at others do so with the balm of purposeful incomprehension. Campaigns of dehumanization are conducted with the sole purpose of being unable to comprehend others. Declaring others deluded or lying removes any justification or need of comprehending their behavior. Ignorance may be bliss for the incomprehensive, but the outcomes are not attractive. I have seen so much harm done in this way. No group, no matter how spiritual or powerful, seems to be free from the need to sooth themselves with the toxic salve of incomprehension.
Dumbledore's quote is an indictment of Voldermort and a challenge to all. The challenge is great with enormous pitfalls present. Some believe that casting value on things outside of their immediate experience will cheapen those things that already are held to be valuable. This fear seems to have at least two sources. The first is dilution, that value placed amongst multiple places will less the value on the places originally thought to have value. There is a challenge here. The integrity and soul of an individual must be large enough to reach out to more and not dilute the things they hold to be valuable. The other fear is that seeing other things to have value will cast the original things of value in a place of disrepute or wrongness. This is a valid fear if a person cannot accept the paradoxes of life, that things can have the same truth and still be at odds with each other. Especially rigid people will embrace both fears. These dogmatic people, seeing great value in only the things they hold dear and nothing else, will have little ability to comprehend others who differ even slightly.
It takes incredible courage to comprehend others because it means that value must be placed on things outside of our comfortable boxes. The joint fears of dilution and wrongness must be seen as obstructive illusions to comprehension of others. The rewards are immense. This hard-earned knowledge spawns a deep wisdom about others. The paradoxes are still observed. Comprehension does not automatically mean agreement or embodiment of contrary energies. Instead, the contrary energies are seen to have a value unto themselves. This hard fought affirmation of a separate rightness allows for other's realities to coexist with our own foundations of reality.
The outcome of seeing value in others does not make the world perfect in the resulting comprehension. Sometimes differences continue to exist. In my mind, the ability to see the incredible value in others can at best lead to melding with them. At worst, and this is not a bad thing, the outcome can merely be an agreement to disagree. I, for one, see incredible peace and wisdom in acknowledging differences. The key is to see the value of contrary stances, and in this value, a little corner of the world is that much better because of a glimmer of comprehension.
The lack of comprehension is addressed by seeing value in those things that defy comprehension. Fears of failure must be overcome as values are placed on things outside of comfortable boundaries. Larger truths, sometimes masquerading as complex paradoxes, are available to those who see the worth of contrary or alien states. The valuing of these states removes the gulfs. A respect borne of acknowledging a different value is always possible. The highest goal is a binding of people when value of others leads to a full comprehension of who they are and what they believe in. The knowledge waiting there is incredible, better than any insular form of knowledge or magic. Dumbledore speaks to this as he concludes,
"Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldermort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped."