I think it could change the world. I think it is what we need the most right now. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The ability to understand something that is usually different than the thing that you believe or understand. Very few people are natural born empathizers. Most of us have to work at it and often the work is hard. Amidst and election year and this crazy virus, how do we better understand each other?
It does not happen without effort. It also does not mean, to concede. Your beliefs can remain intact as you work to understand another belief. For instance, those that don’t believe the corona virus is a real threat can still attempt to understand the perspective of those that bought every last sheet of toilet paper. Maybe that person has elderly parents they are caring for, or maybe they have an underlying illness that makes them more susceptible to the virus. They could simply be someone that firmly believes it is the end of the world. While I’m not sure I’ll truly understand the hoarding of TP I am trying to understand the motivation behind it. Whatever the reason we have to remember that as strongly as we believe our thing, they believe theirs to the same degree. Saying that the other perspective, whatever it is, isn’t valid, does no good.
My opinion is not intrinsically more valid than yours. We all have reasons for why we do and believe certain things. Reasons that are not known to the general public. What would it look like if we all opened our minds to possibility of an evolving perspective?
Personal experience changes everything. The way you interpret a situation is directly affected by your experience. Empathy requires an active pursuit of understanding. It is not passive and will not naturally happen. That’s why it is so hard and rarely occurs. We have to work to understand someone else’s experience with a situation.
When the world is in a panic like it is right now, we must all try to understand a perspective different from our own. Put yourself in the shoes of a small business owner who relies on constant traffic to pay their bills. Try to understand what it must be like for a student that gets two meals a day at school and now has to not only struggle with online classes but is also worrying about three meals. Put yourself in the shoes of public officials, who, no matter the decision, will upset roughly half of the population. I’ve said this before, we can’t all win in things like this, but we don’t all have to lose either.
Be kind. Work to empathize with those around you. I find it ironic that we have isolated from community but need it so desperately.