The other day I fought with my friend Santiago. It wasn’t a big deal, it never really is. This blog post isn’t about that though, it’s about what that fight made Mr. Bonnici, the spectator, say. He mentioned a fight Santiago and I had had two years ago, back in 8th grade. We were just messing around, insulting each other like friends do, but then shots were fired. Literally. Santiago took out the most mortal of all weapons known to my group of friends: YoMost de fresa. As soon as Santiago stabbed the straw into the yogurt (if you can call it that) box, I could smell the scent of nothing more than death… also known as artificially savoured strawberry. He then proceeded to squeeze the box in a way that it would violently hit me, numbing all my senses. This is super exaggerated; the point is that it was disgusting and I was full of it, just like the floor. Suddenly, someone happened to pass by and call our attention, Mr. Bonnici, my current IA teacher. The next thing I knew, he had taken Santiago to the office.
A year later, in 9th grade, when I got interviewed for the IA, I was interviewed by the one and only, Mr. Bonnici. He brought up the incident and I thought he wasn’t going to accept me into the program because his first impression of me was that I was a kid who fought with his friends. He told me that he didn’t really care about the actual childish conflict between us, he was thinking more about the yogurt (again, if you can call it as such). As I said before, the yogurt had hit the floor; Mr. Bonnici wanted to know why I thought that he was mad about the floor and not the argument. I had no clue. He was concerned about who was going to clean it up: the janitor.
I, unfortunately, sometimes happen to live in my little bubble, where everything is cleaned up by itself and everything is served on a silver plate. To some I might sound spoiled; the truth is that I am. I’ve grown up having numerous maids, so many that three of them have had the same name. But don’t get me wrong, I may be spoiled, but I’m not what people call “a spoiled brat”. I’m not mean, disrespectful or rude to Elena, my maid. I’m very nice to her; I treat her like I treat any other of my friends, because she is my friend, the only difference being that she’s also my maid.
However, I do know people who treat their maids badly: call them names, take pictures of them and then draw obscene things around their mouths, and treat them as inferiors because they work for them. Does it hurt to say simple, nice, well-mannered things like “please” and “thank you”? As cliché as it might sound, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of others. Empathy.
Empathy is defined as the ability to share someone else’s experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.
I am not talking about not understanding other because they have different points of view and different ways of handling things, that’s something for another blogpost. What I mean is when others are in positions that we cannot understand because we don’t feel the same way as they do, we haven’t been in their position.
If you were in the position of let’s say, the janitor who was going to clean up the yogurt (not) that Santiago spilled, you would probably feel miserable. It’s bad enough that he has to clean up for living, having a reminder that he’s cleaning up for children that don’t take others into consideration, that don’t take him into consideration, that would just cross the line. I would refuse to clean it up, but I wouldn’t be able to, because it’s my job and without it I wouldn’t be able to provide for the family that is back at the small apartment. As I write this sentence, I look back at the moment in which I could’ve taken the life of the janitor into consideration, but didn’t; I wish I had.
If you show empathy to someone, you make them feel good and they’re more likely to show empathy to someone else, which means that they will make someone else feel good too and keep on spreading empathy. Empathy makes the world a happier place, a better place to live in… what are you waiting for to be empathetic?