Monday, October 24, 2011

Empathy Lost

the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.[1] 
Many today have lost a sense of empathy.  They seem unwilling, and even incapable, of seeing outside of their own image.  Everything in the world is treated as if it was made in their image and likeness.

Most children are not born with empathy.  In fact, when young, children behave in a manner assuming others see through their eyes, hear with their ears, feel with their hands. This is why a two-year old will stand in from of a screen that you are trying to see.  They don't even realize someone else might not be able to see.  If they can see, they assume everyone must be able to see.  The same goes for the young child who hides by hiding their eyes or head.  Since they cannot see you, they therefore assume that you cannot see them.

Eventually, we learn to see things from another's perspective.  We are able to place ourselves in their shoes, see from their eyes, feel from their hands.  However, this learning seems to have been lost.  Many grow up nowadays without any sense of empathy whatsoever.  They maintain the attitude of the two-year old.

I see this in how they treat others, I see this in their expectations of others, in their desires for others.  For example, one may hardly ever get colds, while another gets colds quite often.  To the un-empathetic, it seems that the sick one is doing something wrong.  "I don't get the cold, it must all be in the other's head." This is very, very wrong, and can lead to many injustices as well as poor decisions.  For example, I am personally not allergic to poison ivy.  However, it would be wrong for me to tell those who are allergic that it is all in their head and toss poison ivy on them. 

We can see the same thing when we make decisions for ourselves.  Since we assume that everyone is made in our image, what is good for them must also be good for us.  This leads to bad, bad decisions.  What is good for someone else, may be disastrous for me, and something that would not be good for another could be just what I need.

Empathy is important and something we should both strive to learn, and something we should teach our own children.  Empathy is part of growing up, too many today do not grow up.  Growing up is impossible without empathy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yep thats your brothers alright and on top of that I see the bigest thing wrong nowdays is most everyone has forgotten God its like everyone id god if we all went back to God Family everything else it would be a better world !!