“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” In the words of the renowned Harper Lee, it is empathy that leads to connection and, in turn, appreciation. It is the desire to comprehend others that creates bonds and has the power to unite all of humanity. History, philosophy, and personal experience have proven to me the power of empathy to change minds and lives for the better. Therefore, I believe that the key change to create a more caring world is the development of empathy.
Throughout history, empathy has often made the difference between tragedy and triumph. It was Oskar Schindler’s ability to see past the status of Jews in Nazi Germany that empowered him to survive the most tainted of humanity without sullying his morality. Schindler’s understanding of the Jews’ plight necessitated him to protect them. Ultimately, his empathy led him to save 1200 people who would have otherwise been condemned by those that refused to listen to their suffering. This event, and others like it, show the domino effect empathy has. It manifests kindness, creativity, and bravery in the face of cruelty. If future generations wish to imbue society with more compassion, they must look to the past and see the virtue of empathy as vital as breath.
Philosophy is the foundation for how we care for ourselves and others. Consequently, a perspective that hinges on the desire to understand others is critical to creating a better world. By adopting compassion as a cornerstone of thought, people can learn to ameliorate themselves by benefitting others. Currently, the prevailing ideology of most people is the furthering of selfish goals, with little regard to those who are seen as different. If this could be replaced a philosophy of empathy, by which understanding brought contrasts together, the world would be shifted to the better. Wars would be avoided, cultures consolidated, and differences would be seen as strengths to explore rather than weaknesses to confine. Empathy would be my choice of change because it is a philosophy that nourishes humanity as well as its own philosopher.
In my own experience, empathy has forged incredible friendships and made me a better person. It has made me pursue love rather than hate of the foreign. When something is strange, it is easy to reject it and pretend that you are not guilty for abandoning something that is not yours. As an immigrant, I am poignantly aware of how ostracization can harm both the rejector and the rejected. It builds barriers that only understanding can tear down. Once the walls of apathy disintegrate, compassion can flow like water and bear up boats of love and wisdom. Therefore, empathy is a change I would recommend in everyone’s lives.
The world is at a crossroads, as it always has been, between paths descending to apathy and roads cobbled with understanding. When choosing between the two; history, ideology, and personal experience have taught me to pick empathy. This has changed my life, as I am sure it will change the world, for the better. Therefore, the development of empathy across humanity is the change that would create a more caring future, and it is one I believe we can accomplish.