Where Is Our Empathy?

Some of the things I hear people complaining, protesting and vehemently bitching about are really freedoms and rights we take for granted. I find it amusing when the loudest complainers did absolutely nothing to deserve these freedoms they just happened to be born to them. They go on and on about their civil liberties, their rights, and justice for all. But “all” is who they deem worthy. Clearly they are worthy, they were born properly. Everyone else be damned.

Then there are those that protest the rights of others simply because their lives are harder than most, or so they perceive. They may have been picked on for being different, they don’t make as much money as they would like to, they may have been racially profiled or misjudged by others. They don’t have the “American Dream” so screw the rest of the world. I’m not saying they haven’t struggled, but why are they so angry with everyone else? No, this isn’t specifically about immigration, this is about the numerous things I see people make snap judgments and proclamations about.

There is a great demonstration that was created to bring awareness to rape, assault, and gender violence called Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. I’ve seen pictures of men in the highest of heals walking that mile. It’s a literal and figurative statement that I find really beautiful. There are others that sleep on the streets to know what it’s like to be homeless and bring awareness to the struggles of our homeless population. Sure once the demonstrations are over, the men remove their shoes and put on their sensible loafers and the people return to their warm homes. But there are important statements made with these demos.

Would any of us choose to live in a country with no freedom, no rights, and constant war just to see what it’s like? Would we immerse ourselves in this culture so that we could fully protest their need to escape knowing the nightmares of tyranny and injustice they face on a daily basis?

Would any of us allow ourselves to be injected with heroin then get checked into rehab so that we can continue to call addicts weak? Would we still laugh at their struggles to stay clean and sober when our own bodies shake, sweat, become violently ill, and rebel against us?

Would any of us live with a person bigger, stronger, or more dominant than us that demeans and controls our every move so that we can continue to look down on those that live with domestic violence? Would we say “they asked for it” or “they probably deserved it” after we’ve been smacked for not preparing the meal just right? Would we run away, would we fight back, would we do all the things we say others should do when we have no money, no family, and no safety to run to?

There is this elusive emotion called empathy. It is the ability to put yourself in the other persons place to better understand what their struggles might be. It is with this emotion that makes the immersion process unnecessary. It allows us to see the barriers that others face so that we can create the resources and solutions to help them. Where has our empathy gone? There is so much judgment and self-riotousness in the news and I hate to say it even in my own extended family. We are no longer working on solutions or possibilities but we sure as hell will tell everyone when they are doing things wrong.