The problem in society is that many people lack empathy.
Empathy is the ability to acknowledge, understand and support someone without invalidating their experience or perspective.
There are people who are empathetic and there are people who are apathetic. While the capacity for empathy is innate, the possibility of developing apathy is just as likely if one is not self-aware and conscious about their actions, intentions and motivations.
We as a society are constantly bombarded with so much information that it is almost impossible to keep up and distinguish what to retain and what to give up. We have been desensitized to the extent that we are displaying apathy. There is not a single person that can bear this responsibility nor should they. Not a politician, not a student, not an adult and definitely not a child.
However, there is one thing that is certain — if we all work together with a shared goal, our purpose can be more clear and achievable. The goal I am proposing is to develop empathy that will drive action to create change.
The purpose is to restore people’s faith in humanity and have a world where everybody fully acknowledges human rights. This can be achieved through cultural immersion. There are many ways to engage and immerse yourself in other cultures without having the need to step out of your home in the middle of a pandemic.
According to The Study Abroad Blog, cultural immersion is integrating into the world around you and actively participating in it. Cultural immersion is a lifelong process that is relevant in society and individual life. It is important for us to realize that we are what we consume on a daily basis. Here are some steps that you can take to immerse yourself in other cultures to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of them.
Getting to know new books, media, art and people, for example, is the easiest way to expose yourself to new ideas and perspectives.
Books carry many ideas. Fiction or nonfiction, books help us develop and become more empathic. Exploring art from different cultures allows us to appreciate the kind of beauty that exists outside of our everyday lives. A picture can capture what a thousand words cannot. What does this tell us? There is always more that we do not know so we must create space for understanding other people’s stories.
Social media is a great way to open up one’s world. Knowing this, however, we must be wary of getting trapped in what is called an echo chamber. One way to step out of echo chambers is to intentionally curate a feed that advocates for inclusivity and diversity in all aspects. I encourage you to follow a variety of different people, media sources, brands and more to expose yourself to the unknown.
The people that surround you are very important, for they influence and determine the decisions that you make. Often people put up facades in order to be liked and accepted. In this process, it is likely for people to conform to the norms of the culture they are in. Make an effort to surround yourself with people from different backgrounds — get to know their story and aim to understand them. This will take some time but one day, you will look back and see how much your mentality has shifted.
Ask yourself these questions: am I comfortable with the overall state of this planet? Is the reality of the world one that I wholly accept and find happiness in? Am I present in my day to day life or am I merely reliving the same routine as each day passes? These are some important questions to reflect on, for they will spark new ideas that create change.
Now is the time, more than ever, to take action and delve into topics outside of your comfort zone. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is vital, for pain motivates us to change and change allows us to grow into our fullest potential.
Kristine Jones A. Del Socorro | Culture Editor
Graphic: Anh Phan | Design Editor