Concerning Empathy

“I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization” Roger Ebert

EMPATHY is one of the concepts that I have lived by for the past 7 years. I don’t know how this began, yet I started to think that every day each of us wakes up in the morning and sees things from his point of view (taking a shower, getting dressed, thinking about his day’s schedule ect…).

We get into our cars and head to our daily routines, as we do, we come across thousands of people and they all have been through the same process, yet from their own point of view. Is our brain’s capacity limited to our own point of view? Or is it by choice that we refuse to pay attention to others? We create our own personal world where we work daily to fulfill our needs and to reach our goals; this attitude is encouraged by today’s philosophy, “every man for himself”, that is being deployed on a large scale by the new business ethics and advertisement. We have created a bubble that surrounds us, and this is making it impossible sometimes for others, in desperate need for our help, to be able to reach us.

This attitude, this realization, got me at first thinking while I’m on my way to work, about other’s point of view; when I was about to be mad at someone, I would on occasions, try to picture myself in his place and try to give his actions an explanation (this happened at first while being stuck in the morning or the 5 pm traffic). By doing so, my journey to work was much more fun and I was much calmer.

With time, this experience was transferred to every conflict I encountered, and later it changed my perception of every person I meet; now I always try to understand from what point of view the people I meet are making their reactions, and what makes them act the way they do in any given situation. After all those years I am aware today that every person is fighting a hard battle; I can even testify that most of the time those who look happier, while making an effort to show it, are the ones fighting the hardest battles. People will do anything to hide their weakness, and most of the time they do so by being aggressive; it’s a normal defense mechanism. Thus, when we look past our bubble, when we reach to others, we will find under all their anger, all their rudeness, a wound that needs healing and a cry for help that we must respond to with patience and love.

What I am trying to say is that we have to give people a piece of our heart via empathy, rather than a piece of our mind via conflict. We all need every now and then to be understood; a small gesture of empathy could make a big difference in someone’s life.