I know, I know, Valentine’s Day is over, yet somehow I’m still caught up in all the love around me. The Harvard study I was looking at concluded that “about 80% of the youth in our survey report that their parents are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.” Honestly, that’s probably true. A lot of parents say they value caring/kindness, but their everyday actions suggest otherwise. Anyways, the study suggested how traits like empathy are learned and are difficult to pick up on. Isn’t that odd? But the more I looked into it, the more I realized, the world lacks empathy, compassion, and love. I started living by this philosophy of when things don’t add up, you need to start subtracting. You know, get back to the basics.
So last year when I went through a really rough time and totally hit rock bottom, I looked at what I need to subtract to be able to add up. One of the things I noticed was I needed to weed out the people around me and concentrate the people I wanted to be like. You can look at someone and not know who they are or what they’re like, but know exactly how they are by looking at their friends and family. So I surrounded myself with people I wanted to be like. My friend Philippa has a passion and dedication for swimming which is absolutely mental. I haven’t ever stuck to a hobby for more than a few years. So I’ve grown close to Philippa because not only is she an amazing person, but because she has strong will power. You can’t go wrong with someone that’s dedicated.
Likewise to how all of my friends have certain qualities and traits that I could only dream and strive to have, but I think I have a trait a lot of people lack: empathy. Empathy is a nurtured trait, so we learn to be empathetic through our parents, teachers, friends as we grow. But I noticed I had friends (past tense) around me that had zero empathy towards other people (e.g. homeless, disabled, unfortunate, unhealthy, etc). How do you not feel for people???? I literally don’t understand.
A solid example is the death penalty. For ages, we’ve been arguing is the death penalty valid or not. I firmly stand on the side that rules the death penalty completely invalid, unjustifiable, and unfair. I don’t care how harsh the crime was, there is absolutely no place for anyone to judge death. Take the Boston bomber situation. I was actually supposed to volunteer at the Marathon that day (at the starting line), but I was feeling lazy so I called a friend to take my spot. Now, I’m not justifying what Dzokhar Tsarnaev did was okay. It wasn’t and never will be. But how do you go about determining, yes this was all his fault and he intentionally meant to kill people for x reasons. You can’t.
We have the US court and justice system but if you simmer down the situation, a jury has no right to decide whether or not it’s okay to end a person’s life. Add some empathy to the situation and think about it. Tsarnaev may have not been in the right mind, he may have been coaxed into it, his brain might not have connected properly to action and consequence, etc. There are a ton of different factors and possibilities that no one will ever know. So how can you decide to cease a life based on such little information. It’s like having 5 of 10,0000 puzzle pieces and trying to guess the big picture from it. You can try your best, and you might be right, but odds are you can’t pin it down.
I was talking to my friend Louis about empathy and the death penalty and all this stuff and it’s so hard to rule out a life. I mean I guess you can say well he injured and could have taken hundreds of lives by those bombs, and you can use the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” rule from Hammurabi’s Code. But Gandhi says “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. Hammurabi took the most brutal approach to justice (if a son hit his father, his hands would be “hewn off”) and was just so sexist and awful, I refuse to take any of his advice. It’s just simply outdated.
This post is so off topic and I totally just went on a tangent, but point being is empathy, compassion, and love are a trio. You can’t have one without the other two. It’s just such an important trait to have. To be able to put yourself in someone’s shoes, to go beyond your own personal opinion and think how someone else may react is such a key trait. Being empathetic will take you so far in life. You’ll treat people better and therefore, be treated better in return. You’ll understand people’s needs, and thus in return provide. You’ll improve your interpersonal friendships, and have much better communication skills.
I’m telling you, life will be just better. When you can put things into perspective and feel what other people feel, everything in life is just more genuine.
I’m totally preaching here, but just do it. Be empathetic and just feel the people around you. (That sounds so silly doesn’t it?) Understand and feel why someone is having a bad day and you’ll be able to cheer them up. Put yourself in someone’s shoes and try to conceptualize the situation. Truly listen to people when they speak and try to understand their thoughts, even if it’s as simple as why cinnamon raisin toast is better than cinnamon raisin bagels. In an argument or debate, try to understand the other side. If someone believes that opposition, maybe it isn’t completely radical and a waste of time to understand too.
Your horizon and world just opens up completely when you are empathetic. Sure, your heart will ache a ton more when you see something unfortunate and any sad video on Facebook makes you cry, but take that as an advantage. Use those emotions to empower change and progress.
I saw a sad video on Facebook about how a girl wrote a letter on how her dad is a liar – in the best way possible. He lies about work and money to ensure her future and makes every sacrifice possible for her. Which is great and also inconceivably sad. This commercial pulls heartstrings with a sad (but beautiful) soundtrack, some serious syntax, and a ton of pathos appeals. But the thing is, this shouldn’t be such a shocker. Parents make sacrifices everyday to ensure their children’s futures. My parents went through refugee camp to ensure theirs/my future. There’s a single mom out there working 3 jobs and trying to go to college to ensure her son an education and happy life.
So putting all that into perspective and tying it in with this theme of empathy, I’ve taken initiative to raise $2000 for children in Vietnam. The money will go towards helping fund school books and tuition for a small school in Vietnam. Let’s help out these parents and give a helping hand. Let’s dig these kids out of failure and give them opportunity to succeed. Let’s give someone else a chance we were born into. More information is over here on the gofundme page. I’d be super happy if you could share the page around with family or friends, and even donate if you’d please.
-much love from me to all of you xoxo-
p.s. I totally made this post just to talk about my gofundme page. xoxo