Sunday, September 28, 2014
Is Empathy Achieveable?
Over the past couple of days we have been speaking about empathy and its affect on the human race. Jeremy Rifkin has been leading us (my class and I) through a discussion about empathy. I found that categorizing ourselves less and great disasters bring out individuals empathetic sociability. Take 9/11 for example, for a period of time the whole nation came together and worked things out. I also find that less categorization will make us feel more like a group of people than an individual. This however removes our feeling of "specialness" as I like to put it. What is there about the concept of empathy that conjures up so much derision? Why are some so frightened? Perhaps it's because being empathic requires giving up the pretense of being special and anointed. It means being mindful of other points of view. It means abandoning the idea that rank self-interest governs all behavior. And, most important, it means being open to the plight of others. This is a quote I took from an article entitled Will we heed Obama's call for a more empathetic society? by Jeremy Rifkin. I especially like this quote because it suggests that we as humans want to feel special in some way and less categorization means removing that. The only way to help other people is by removing our own privileged life. SO the overall question we were asked was is empathetic sociability achievable on a global scale? I personally believe that it is possible, but not in my lifetime or yours. It will take many years for people to realize that we need everyone alive to continue surviving as a human race. Some say that Rifkin is ideological, I think he's just a man looking in the right direction. After if we tell ourselves we can't then we never will. Many of the most pressing problems today can be solved with empathy, but that in turn will make new problems. However, together we can make it better for hundreds even millions of lives, all we need is a little bit of love. A big ice cream bowl of love with some empathy sprinkled on top and hope as the chocolate sauce.