On Thursday, President Obama arrived at the Vatican and met Pope Francis for the first time. The visit was, as The Washington Post's Scott Wilson writes, "the most symbolic stop of the president's Europe trip." Yet, underlying the historic moment was a familiar and central topic here at the d.school:
“The theme that stitched our conversation together was a belief that, in politics and in life, the quality of empathy, the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes and to care for someone even if they don’t look like you or talk like you or share your philosophy — that’s critical,” Obama said. “It’s the lack of empathy that plunges us into wars.”
We so often mention empathy at the d.school that its power and relevance can become obscured. But when the President of the United States and the Pope sit together and build their first meeting's conversation on a foundation of empathy, it's a poignant reminder of how powerful, necessary and meaningful the act can be -- not only in design, but in life.