Anger. Disgust. Division. Confusion. These are all descriptors of our current political environment, in my opinion. I would argue that our society is more hyperpolarized than it has ever been, with democratic ideals being far from those of Republicans and vice versa. I can’t go on Facebook or Twitter anymore without being overwhelmed by the politicized commentary. And yet, I can’t help but think that every issue—every disagreement and divided opinion—could be solved with a little empathy.
Empathy is a gateway to compassion. It’s understanding how someone feels and trying to imagine how that might feel for you. It’s a mode of relating. And I honestly believe that if the citizens of our country and the people of our world had a bit more empathy, we’d be able to solve a lot of problems.
Think about it. What are the biggest problems facing our country right now? The most divisive and controversial issues in American politics?
The Black Lives Matter movement.
Now stop and think about how having empathy could help these issues. If we ceased to think only about ourselves and instead chose to put ourselves in others’ shoes—trying our very best to relate—we would all probably have very similar opinions on these topics.
We would recognize that healthcare shouldn’t just help those who can afford it, that refugees are people just like us, that women deserve to be treated equally to men, that race should not be a factor in who lives and who dies. We would hopefully begin to realize that we are all human, and we are all worthy of rights. Whether we are male, female, black, white, wealthy, poor, American citizens or that of another country—we are all deserving of basic human rights.
So let’s put an end to selfishness. Let’s choose to think about people other than ourselves, and try our very best to understand different points of view. Let’s have a little empathy and maybe, just maybe, we can come together as a country and make our world a better place—for everybody.