Empathy, for those unfamiliar with the word, is the understanding of another’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
Think of the clichÃ© to “walk a mile in another’s shoes.” That’s empathy. What has surprised me (and shocked me) is the lack of empathy that exists in the world today.
It isn’t hard to prove this point; one just needs to look into the various Internet forums, sessions of Parliament, even in this newspaper you hold in your hands. This lack of understanding another’s point of view is everywhere.
Why is it acceptable to be completely ignorant of another’s view of things? It’s not hard and all it requires is a stretch of the mind and the ability to accept that others have different ideals. All I’m asking is for the world to start using empathy before they make radical statements, be it in a friendly argument, a debate or even an essay.
All it takes is a moment to ask yourself, “If I were this person, how would I react? If I were in another’s situation, what would I do?” Again, all it takes is an open mind.
We are all human beings. We all have logical reasoning skills. We have the ability to think outside the box, so when did outright refusal to see a different side of an argument become the social norm?
Not that there is no one out there who uses empathy; there are hundreds, nay, thousands of people around the world who take that extra step and use empathy in their daily lives. Yet the person who rants and raves and screams about why their view of the world is the only right one receives more attention than the person who calmly presents their argument.
When any debate takes place, be it on a university or government level, extensive research is done not only on one side’s argument but on what the opponent is arguing about. You can only argue for something if you understand what you are arguing against.
Empathy isn’t a hard thing to grasp. There was a point in time when it was encouraged by many cultures; now it is ignored by the majority of journalists and politicians.
If everyone in the world decided to use empathy, imagine all of the conflicts that would disappear. We would be able to further understand the poverty in many developing countries; we would be able to appreciate and understand different cultures. Closer to home, the city’s East Side / West Side cultural division would dissolve.
Whether writing a comment in an online forum, or writing an article on health care problems in North America, empathy can only help expand you.
Empathy isn’t just about good journalism; it’s about being human.