She weaves her experience of losing her hearing with the experience of being hated as a transgender person.She tells a story both about judging and being judged in the absence of empathy — and how being forced to imagine what another is feeling or experiencing can ultimately open our hearts and yield compassion.
Or maybe you read a story, listened to a song or viewed a documentary that ignited your thinking about the plight of another person, someone different from you.
The ideas and questioning that come from life experiences like this can lead to the development of empathy. Boylan’s essay addresses empathy from two perspectives.
Feelings of awe, such as those generated by incredible images from space, seem to do the same thing, he says.
Professor Pinker, in his superb book “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” explores whether the spread of affordable fiction and journalism beginning in the 18th century expanded empathy by making it easier for people to imagine themselves in the shoes of others.
Above all, let’s remember that compassion and rationality are not effete markers of weakness, but signs of civilization._________For Writing and Discussion1. Boylan suggests that much of the despair and grief in the world may come from a lack of empathy. And, do you consider it your responsibility to “imagine the humanity” of others? Have you ever been “otherized” — made to feel alien or different — through teasing, bullying or cyberbullying? Do you think a lack of empathy is at the heart of this kind of behavior? “The biggest empathy generator is cuteness,” one expert tells him, “which is why so many charities feature photos of children and why so many conservation organizations feature pandas.” Another expert agrees: “It is subject to bias — both laboratory studies and anecdotal experiences show that empathy flows most for those who look like us, who are attractive and who are nonthreatening and familiar.” How can we counteract the inherent bias that seems to be hard-wired in our empathy muscle? Is it the responsibility of families, schools, churches or community centers, for example?
Should our ethics “transcend our own personal experience and embrace the dignity of the human race”? Do you think purposeful programs, projects or even just conversations might help to create empathy and sensitivity toward others?
But what about the muscles needed to be an empathetically fit human being? And how do we create opportunities for greater compassion and empathy in our world?
Have you ever gone to visit a person or a place and left feeling refreshed for one reason or another?
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quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale"/To become stronger, better, faster and more competitive athletes, we need to work out and practice. We need to stretch, sweat and push our way out of our comfort zones to achieve a higher level of skill and performance.