Jessica Le

Sefferino Ramos

1B, 9 O’clock

14, September 2018

“Live With Empathy”

Empathy is a broad term that is interpreted differently in different countries, cultures, and even individual people depending on their values, faith and how they grew up. Although they may all be interpreted differently, they are all translated the same, kindness, compassion and understanding someone from their perspective. Many of these ideas were passed down through teachings of ethics and morality, especially through religious sects that have empathy. Sadly, the world is very lacking in this attribute as seen in politics, the justice system. I believe that this world is in need of much more empathy so that this world can be a kinder place. A solution to this problem that the government themselves can do is to have it be taught in education as a subject rather than having it skimmed over in preschool. Such an implementation would not be very effective on the current population, but the populations after will reap the benefits and it will be noticeable after a few years and generations. I believe that we are all born with the innate want to be kind and have empathy for others as when we were kids, but throughout a person’s life, things happen that change that behavior.

Throughout the history there has been a lack of individuals who put an importance on empathy. Merlijin Kouprie and Froukje Visser, industrial design engineers writing about empathy reference that “empathy is described as an ability people have, and differs for individuals. McDonagh (2006) defines empathy as ‘the intuitive ability to identify with other people’s thoughts and feelings – their motivations, emotional and mental models, values, priorities, preferences, and inner conflicts.” This further show how empathy is defined by the understanding and awareness of others. There is much importance placed on religion and faith. Each faith has different teachings and lessons for those who follow the religion, but one thing is always the same in almost all religions, its the teaching of kindness, peace, and love. The love for others  is another form of empathy that shows how we were not supposed to all be separated by different flags and borders but we were supposed to be as one, caring and loving those around us. If empathy had enemies in today’s society it would definitely be the ideas of selfishness and conventionalism. An example of being conventional would be seeing things as they are, while a judge may not know the true personality of an individual or the individuals motives, they may decide that they will waste a week in jail over punching someone for making fun of the individuals mother who died when the individual was still young. The judge may not believe or even care about such a story connected to why the individual punched the person. The judge only sees the standing fact that the individual committed the crime of attacking someone else. With empathy, the judge will feel their stress, anxiety, and anger in their body. They might feel the defendant pain emotionally and physically. That is being conventional, for if the judge or justice system in general showed any empathy, both the individual and the person who made fun of the individuals mom would leave with only warnings because the judge knows that the individual might have only committed the act because of the pain the individual felt.

Empathy affects all topics that can possibly be discussed such as politics and the justice system. There being a lack of empathy  has caused these matters to become harsh and unforgiving as a consequence. The government’s denial of refugees into the states is a good example of this lack of empathy. The reason they have told the public is because there would be negative effects that come from accepting so much refugees in. Should the government have had more empathy, they would care enough about the syrian as a people to look for alternatives to discover a way to help those refugees who are running in danger for fear of their lives and their family. Francesca Sanna, and illustrator hoping to teach empathy says wonderfully “it is often forgotten that the right to have a safe place to live is a human right—that human rights belong to everyone, and are not just for citizens of a certain country.” (Sanna)  This shows how government forgets the fact that these immigrants are people who have pasts, dreams and fears, yet the government only sees them as “causing negative problems in the country.” This example of government goes to show only one consequence of there being a lack of empathy in the world, yet there are many others. The largest part of life is its social aspect, yet it is one of the controversial topics that have not been getting much attention due to its subtle appearance.

Empathy is an attribute that can be taught. The problem with this fact is that there are many people in the world who have not been taught empathy. This is because the only areas that empathy is taught is through parents, and through almost all faiths that teach about empathy and kindness. Empathy is only really learned if the individual is able to understand why a certain action is wrong, not just know that there will be consequences for those actions. Rebecca Hibbins, an educational researcher writing about development of empathy through storytelling says, “the rich story narratives and the variety of story characters that are available … provide children with intrinsically engaging opportunities to look beyond themselves so that they can explore and develop their comprehension of different personality types, emotions and behaviour” (Hibbins) A solution to this problem is having empathy included into education. While there will be students who will not learn from such a class or those who do not learn anything that they already know, I believe that if the government implemented such a subject, that it would be very beneficial for the future of our society. Although more so than the government, this is something every person needs to make a contribution to, from the parents to the teachers and individuals themselves. It will begin small and not have much effect, society will still remain the same, but over years of consistent importance placed on empathy, society can be compared to now and will show tremendous changes in almost all aspects such as corporate greed, less harsh sentences, lowered crime rates.

It may not affect the current population as changing people’s beliefs and attitudes towards the world and other humans may make such an implementation too late for this generation, but generations after will see improvement through the implementation. A long term test can be made to prove this theory. People will be tested on their beliefs and how they see other people as well as the amount of crime and to a certain degree, a measure of acts of kindness. Then after about ten years with the implementation another test would be done to see if there were slight improvements. We can also go on to say that if we want to affect the current population, certain authorities such as government, city, church and schools can implement rewards for those who have been outstanding individuals and these rewards would be like benefits in the same way as other reward systems like credit is.

Empathy is the backbone of our social constructs as human beings like many other mammals. It is also important because it is a framework for a more forgiving and kinder world which can be achieved through it. There should be more people in this world who exhibit empathy, but time has shown that is has only slowly declined due to change and progression to survive and become successful in this world, causing many people to become selfish and not aware of others. I believe that if people were taught empathy and truly cared and see things from other people’s perspective, then favoring would not be a problem that comes with more empathy.  And while there are many possible explanations for these problems, I think one of the more credible is a lack of empathy and understanding.

Works Cited

Bloom, Paul. “Think Empathy Makes the World a Better Place? Think Again … | Paul Bloom.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 19 Feb. 2017, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/19/think-empathy-makes-world-better-place-think-again.

Gregoire, Carolyn. “How Important Is It For Politicians To Have Empathy?” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Mar. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/empathy-leadership_us_56f04d40e4b09bf44a9e1b9d.

Hibbin, Rebecca (2016) The psychosocial benefits of oral storytelling in school: developing identity and empathy through narrative, Pastoral Care in Education, 34:4,218-231, DOI: 10.1080/02643944.2016.1225315

Kouprie, Merlijn, and Froukje Sleeswijk Visser. “A Framework for Empathy in Design:Stepping into and out of the Users Life.” Journal of Engineering Design, vol. 20, no. 5, Oct. 2009, pp. 437–448., doi:10.1080/09544820902875033.

Sanna, Francesca. Teaching Empathy for a Better World; Knowledge Quest; Chicago Vol. 46, Iss. 5,  (May/Jun 2018): 70-72.

Annotated Bibliography

  1. Bloom, Paul. “Think Empathy Makes the World a Better Place? Think Again … | Paul Bloom.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 19 Feb. 2017, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/19/think-empathy-makes-world-better-place-think-again.

Shows how empathy favors the one over many. The main problem with empathy is that it works like a spotlight, highlighting certain people in the here and now, making their suffering salient to you. Helped me see the effect of how this world’s lack empathy. Its reliable because a renowned psychologist wrote this.

2. Gregoire, Carolyn. “How Important Is It For Politicians To Have Empathy?” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 23 Mar. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/empathy-leadership_us_56f04d40e4b09bf44a9e1b9d.

This connected the rise of Donald Trump, who won the president election with his insults, lies, racism and relentless self-aggrandizing. With this source I was able to pinpoint where the lack of empathy affects the most. The lack of empathy in the politician world affects those outside of our country. This source is reliable due to it coming from Huffington Post.

3. Hibbin, Rebecca (2016) The psychosocial benefits of oral storytelling in school: developing identity and empathy through narrative, Pastoral Care in Education, 34:4, 218-231, DOI: 10.1080/02643944.2016.1225315

This source is credible because it came from a sorcaly journal. This jornal helped me come up with a solution to my problem.  That teaching kids at a young age is the most effective way to change how a person grows up and become. The psychological development of young kids in school allows more opportunity of them to encourage and actively pursues in later years.

4. Kouprie, Merlijn, and Froukje Sleeswijk Visser. “A Framework for Empathy in Design: Stepping into and out of the Users Life.” Journal of Engineering Design, vol. 20, no. 5, Oct. 2009, pp. 437–448., doi:10.1080/09544820902875033.

This source shows a widespread recognition that has surfaced for the importance of designers to gain empathy with the users for whom they are designing. Helped me understand that with empathy how it can affect a person in their adults lives. This source is a scholarly journal.

5. Sanna, Francesca. Teaching Empathy for a Better World; Knowledge Quest; Chicago Vol. 46, Iss. 5,  (May/Jun 2018): 70-72.

This presents a narrative of her experiences of workshops with children about the topics of empathy and understanding, with the help of libraries and schools in Switzerland.With this source I was able to have a better understanding of my solution. Teaching empathy allows us to have a better and kinder world. This source is reliable because it is a scholarly journal.