Empathy is a very different thing from sympathy. Sympathy is just an understanding between people, it’s like a common feeling and sympathy can also be explained as feeling a sort of pity or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Empathy, on the other hand, is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and understanding and sharing their feelings. To put it more clearly let me give you an example, imagine that you see a friend who has lost their mother to a tragic accident, your most instant reaction to hearing the incident would be to feel sorry for your friend’s loss, you would feel bad about it, this is empathy.
On the other hand, if on hearing the same incident, you put yourself in the shoes of your friend. Then, you would basically imagine putting yourself in the same place he is in and that would instill the thought of you losing your own mother, which has a more profound effect on you. You being sympathetic towards your friend would not have the same effect. Empathy makes you understand what a person is going through a lot better, it gives you a different view from that of our own perspectives.
In this fast-paced world of ours, empathy has taken a back seat. We are all stuck to our own versions of reality and choose to ignore the feelings of others for the most part. This isn’t the ideal world that we want to live in. Empathy is what connects people, it’s the force that keeps us from being outright chaotic and uncivilized. Empathy is built into our subconscious, we wince when we see others get hurt, reactions like these are automatic and ingrained. But, we all seem to lack some level of empathy in our lives. We choose to mark those out of our circle as “others”.
This sort of a mindset is the root of a great many problems in this world. Empathy has a large role to play when it comes to creating bonds of trust and love. We empathize with the people we love and that is what helps us feel the connection that we have with them. We take their problems as our own and we help them as much as we can. That Empathy is what makes our loved ones and us feel loved and cared, it makes us feel good. Though we have empathy for those in our circle, What about the “others”. This is where the problem of a lack of empathy comes in.
I’ve seen people on the streets ignore an injured person and just go about their lives like its completely normal. Put yourself in the same position, what would you feel like if you are injured and out on the street and everyone just walks by you? Would you be okay with such a reaction? Even if it’s not yourself, imagine if it was one of your loved ones. You wouldn’t want your friends or family to be in the same situation either, would you? But, still some do ignore an injured person on the road and worse still justify their actions by either blaming the person injured or by saying to themselves that some other person would help.
If one lacks empathy for beings around the world then he/she is in a way adding to the woes of this world. Empathy for being around us is central to creating a more peaceful world. When we see a beggar or homeless person, often times we get frustrated and angry. We shout at these people and blame them for their existence. However, when you think about what led the person to their current state, you understand their pains. We choose to ignore what’s right in front of us. We judge people who are different from ourselves, we choose to blame people who have ended up in a bad state through no fault of theirs.
Things like racism wouldn’t exist if people put themselves in the shoes of the ones they choose to look down upon. We would all understand why a person is a person they are now. Circumstances are mostly thrust upon people. If you put thought into why anyone is anyone, you would understand that your reality isn’t far from their reality. We all live in the same reality and plane and yet due to a lack of empathy we fail to see it. We need more empathy in this world if we are to have a brighter future.