/ empəTHē /
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
There is a problem with our wiring. We relish winning at the expense of others.
We are entitled to more than others. We worked hard. We wouldn’t do the dumb things they did. They don’t deserve the things. They didn’t even work for it. They did the dumb stuff and now they should feel the consequence.
Why does it feel right when the bully gets punched? Why does it feel right when the kid who was tardy gets detention? Why does it feel right when we have more money than those who “obviously” made a series of poor choices?
I’ll tell you why.
Because everyone else deserves to understand the consequences of their actions and we deserve to feel the consequences of ours. We somehow believe we made better choices and our consequences mean we have more and better things than most. We want to be seen as better than most people.
What if the punched bully was beaten until he was old enough to run away from home? What if the chronically tardy kid is late because he walks two miles to school since his family has no car? What if the poor choices of the impoverished were born of a lack of opportunity to understand simple math, let alone finances? Oh, that changes the picture. Right?
Empathy requires valuing someone else when it is of no benefit to us. It is hard. But, it’s possible to make a life-changing difference for someone by withholding our desire for justice and taking on their situation as if it were ours. Sometimes it takes walking two miles in the shoes of the kid in detention, but if we take the time to understand his walk we may find a way to help him win – at our completely rewired expense.
See what some in our community are doing to understand a day in the life of a family in poverty. Become a part of the solution.