A while ago I was asked by Kristi at Finding Ninee what would make the world more full of empathy. Those who know me know my first response was sarcastic:
Just accept those who are different you fool.
But the truth is every one of us is working towards this goal. Much to the dismay of my family and close friends I know challenge you when you say retarded. However it is more than a word. It is a state of being.
You (and I) have to make a conscious effort to be kind. To not think the worst of humanity. To not judge the person walking towards you. To not think the child squealing in the checkout line is misbehaving but performing impromptu speech therapy. To not look at the obese person at the fast food counter and think the worst.
We see the horrific ALS Challenge where teenagers not only bullied a child with autism to complete the challenge they filled the bucket with disgusting, mind-boggling contents.
We see people changing their Facebook profile pictures in solidarity and support of those with differences.
We see the horror of war.
We see people opening their homes to refugees.
We remember the Concentration Camps, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, Columbine and forget again in the blink of time.
Making the World more full of empathy is difficult. We are born with the only preconceived notion that our family will care for us. We will hug and play with anyone who smiles at us. Then we change. We become cynical. We stop looking for the good and concentrate on the bad.
With ourselves, with others and with those closest to us. It the “with ourselves” that bothers me the most. I think we need to start having empathy for who we are first, before we can change the world.
We have to stop looking in the mirror and seeing the wrinkles.
We have to stop looking at a magazine cover and holding that as our image consultant.
We (I) have to stop looking at our parenting skills as compared to those of Mrs. Brady. (Giselle and Carol).
We have to acknowledge that judgement happens but it doesn’t make it right.
I’m not quite sure how to create more empathy in the world. I think it does start with me. How I treat myself and how I treat others. I believe true Empathy is a work in progress one I’m glad to be a part of.
The 31 for 21 Challenge was created to promote empathy and awareness of Down Syndrome. I am happy to participate again this year.
I never thought of it that way, but you’re right – we should start with ourselves first and to stop the self-judgment. Because, how can we learn to be empathetic if we can’t be that way with our own flaws, challenges, etc? It’s a really good starting place…
It was funny, I wasn’t too sure where that post was going to take me. As I reread it I know it kind of rambled, but I do believe that having empathy for myself will play outward. Now if only I could be kinder to myself 🙂
This is lovely. Thank you for the reminder. How often do we hold ourselves to ridiculous standards and berate ourselves for minor infractions? It’s strange how we will overlook the imperfections of others…call them “quirks” and even love them for them, but have so little patience with ourselves. I’ve read you can’t fully love another person until you can love yourself. I don’t know if that is true, but I can see how that kind of love might bring peace and when you feel at peace that spreads to other people.
I admit I keep teaching my children to try their best to be less judgmental and more empathetic, but sometimes I fully admit I need to practice what I preach. So, thank you so much Kerri for the reminder here today for us all and definitely said a mouthful and then some here.
It is much easier to preach than practice, Janine! I struggle with this concept all the time.
This is incredibly corny but I always do think of Michael Jackson’s song, “Man in the Mirror” about how changing the world starts with looking in the mirrors at ourselves first.
Corny! But true.
It is corny….but definitely true 🙂 I think having a tween is what is alerting met to that internal dialogue. I just do not want her to hear that voice and see empathy with other first, and not what they look or act like.
Thank you. Thanks for saying what I’m trying to still say but feel like I’ve said and said and said. xo I love you.
Thanks for letting me steal your prompt 🙂