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.