Charles Darwin believed that the involuntary expressions of man were directly influenced by his various emotions and sensations. He believed that these expressions grew and evolved by means of natural selection from the expressions and behaviours of animals. He also believed that these expressions, through photographs, would be understood and wordlessly explained by any eyes that looked upon it. He tested this theory by taking photographs of the expressions of people showing various emotions and then taking those photos to small villages (with limited outside contact) and asked those villagers to guess the emotion of the person in the photograph. Every villager guessed correctly – without hesitation.
Emotions are primal. We understand them when we see them in the faces of people we love, and even those we don’t, just like in the animal kingdom, as Darwin had proven. Something that is inately human, is our preference to ignore most of these emotions. We ignore the expressions we see that are filled with rage and look away from faces twisted with grief. We see all of these expressions for a reason, they are built into our design with a purpose. No matter what language or race you are, you will always find understanding – even if it is not acknowledged through words.
I can’t count how many people have said to me that they never know what to say to someone who seems inconsolable. If we are all related through expression, perhaps words aren’t what you need.
What would compassion look like on your face?