Working Towards Empathy
Ellen Degeneres ends every episode of her show with the instruction Be Kind to One Another. Maybe the whole world should have watched all the way through to the end to hear that message. Weren’t we all given the same instructions as children? Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Prejudice, injustice and racism are finally being discussed openly leaving many wondering “How did I miss this?” Other people are wondering, “How it could it have been this hard for other people to see/acknowledge?”
There have been resources shared about implicit bias and systemic racism. Books have been recommended and documentaries have been watched. I’ve been so touched by how many people have reached out genuinely wanting learn more.
Now that eyes are being opened and ears are receptive many people are questioning where to go with their newfound knowledge and insight. How do they move forward and make a difference?
As we see feeds and lives revert to “normal content” my advice is this, start with empathy. Going forward choose to have and display empathy instead of sympathy. But to do this, you must know the difference.
Put simply, sympathy is feeling pity and sorry for someone else’s misfortune. Empathy is to understand and share the feeling of another. It’s the difference between just feeling bad about George Floyd and actually imagining it were your father, brother, son, or friend. It’s letting yourself feel that pain, anger and sadness as if it were. It is taking someone else’s sorrow and pain and sharing it with them. But how do we get there? By realizing we are more alike than we are different.
So many content creators have been sharing the pages of both Black and POC accounts. That might be how you ended up here reading this right now. I appreciate and thank everyone who shared the mic and celebrated Pride month by amplifying melanated voices. Going forward my challenge is this, find someone like you but different and learn from them.
Among all the recommended accounts find one that resonates with you. If you are crazy about crafting and straight, follow someone crazy about crafting… but gay. If you are a non POC single mom juggling a career and kids, follow another single mom doing the same… who’s Black.
If you’re asking yourself why, it’s because their content will speak to you. You’ll begin to recognize parts of yourself in their story, but you’ll also be shown the story from their perspective, through their eyes.
Get to know both the joys and the struggles of their world and how sometimes being a marginalized group makes things more difficult.
We are all more similar than we are different and when we can embrace our similarities we are better equipped to empathize with the struggles.