A Time for Empathy. Author: RaineDate:2013-07-19 12:11:48
We are fast hurtling towards a world where empathy is considered a bad thing. In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman trial, there are those among us that justify the verdict with claims such as:
It's not that simple; Zimmerman was acting in self defense; Trayvon wasn't really innocent; It wasn't about race; This is our justice system; It can't be proven.
There are many more claims out there as to what happened with regard to this trial and its outcome. A bigger broader picture is becoming more and more clear to me: we are becoming a nation where a simple act of empathy is not enough to placate those that refuse to see the racism that exists in our nation. For some, there is no room to stop and ponder something that makes them feel uncomfortable. There is an increasing position that to at least TRY to put one's self into another person's shoes is a sign of weakness. Empathy:
Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathy is known to increase prosocial (helping) behaviors. While American culture might be socializing people into becoming more individualistic rather than empathic, research has uncovered the existence of "mirror neurons," which react to emotions expressed by others and then reproduce them.
A lack of empathy makes us meaner, colder and more callous. It makes us less caring to the plight of others. It makes us selfish. It makes us close-minded and it makes us short-sighted.
Here is all I need to know: Trayvon Martin is dead and he didn't have to die. No justification in the world can change that. My heart hurts not just for his family and loved ones, but it hurts for everyone who knows the reality of what happened that evening in Sanford, Florida. Arguing semantics with those that have little or no empathy is useless. Only they can live with themselves and what is in their heart.
I can never understand, but what I can identify with allows me to be empathetic. I never want to be so jaded that I can't feel or identify with the plight of other people. Empathy doesn't make me weak. It doesn't make me a lesser person. It makes me a caring person that simply cannot justify a teen's death as easily as some can. I posted this image the other night, it's worth another look.
These kids get it:
I pray they never lose the wisdom and the empathy that they have.
I was once 17. I was smart-mouthed and reckless. I was bullied. I wasn't always kind to others. I did things that were illegal. There were times when I was downright shitty. I was 17 and believed I knew it all.
I had something else: I had the chance to grow out of t. I was able to use my experiences to not only make better choices but to have empathy for others who would later be in the shoes that I wore.
The most important thing I had was time. I made it through, I grew up. I've lived thru joy and darkness. I married and divorced and found the love of my life. I had time.
I had time to not become meaner, colder, more callous and selfish. I had time to learn and live. I refuse to give up empathy for other people. I refuse.