So today’s word of wisdom empathy.
Empathy- the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner
Empathy is sorely missing from today’s society. We as a Nation have lost our ability to empathize with our fellow man. I am a child that was raised in South Carolina in the 80’s and came of age in the 90’s. My family raised me to empathize with others. To understand that other people have their own struggles and demons be it financial or otherwise. I have raised my children to realize the same lesson. I have two children with disabilities that many people do not empathize with their struggles because they “look” normal. There is always a moment in time when you have to ask yourself if the person that you sit next to on the plane that mutters, “Thank goodness I’m not sitting next to a kid.”, has the empathy to remember when he or she was a child? You wonder if the successful business man that now makes a million dollars a year has the empathy to remember when he was a child and his mom depended on the system for food support, the school for free lunch, and he struggled to feed himself during and after college? You wonder if the politician has the empathy to realize that the person whose services he wishes to cut realized that he or she could have a stroke tomorrow and be in that very same wheel chair that the person talking to them is sitting in and in need of around the clock care, but it is not there because he or she voted against it?
Empathy has become a dirty word in our society. I have discovered that individuals in my age range, late 20’s to mid-30’s, are the largest population that do not empathize with the people around them. Prime example, I have friends that feel that the mom that is standing in the grocery store line with her nails and hair done and paying for food with food stamps should look like crap. Not thinking that that mom had a job interview, needs that job, and can not go into that interview looking like crap. That thought does not roll through their mind. It does not roll through their mind that this mom may have been unemployed for two years and this was her first chance in six months to interview for a job. This shows a lack of empathy on their part. How has my generation gotten away from being able to empathize with others? It is because my generation has become a self preservation society. We have been filled with fear of the future. Oh wow, we have a deficit in the United States Government, Social Security won’t be there when you are old (which has been a line that apparently has been used since the 1970’s according to my research) not thinking that you pay into the system and yet, we have no clue what the future brings.
Look, I’m not saying lacking empathy is a bad thing. There are people in this world that need to make definitive decisions without taking into consideration what others deal with or may being going through. But service industries that deal with people, DHHS, DSS, and other agencies, those are the agencies that need empathy. We, the public, need empathy. Why, we never know when we are going to be on the other end of the fingers that we are pointing at everyone else now. We never know when we may be the person that is ill and does not have a job that provides health insurance. You are going to fight for your life and if that means applying to Medicaid, you do it right? I know it seems difficult to think in those terms, but I have met family after family who have children with disabilities, need the system, yet turn their nose down on others that partake of the system in order to survive. No one gets up early in the morning and says “I think I will be poor and live off the system”. I for one would rather work and bust my butt to get what my little family needs than to wait for someone to give it to me. But I am not one to apologize for the moments when I need the help to care for my children. A good parent does what they need to do for their children regardless of what others think. People like me have empathy for others, but we don’t have empathy for those that do judge us from the outside looking in. One day in my shoes, you will fall to your knees.
In closing, empathy is a lesson we as parents today should teach our kids. We want children that are able to empathize with their fellow man because these are our future doctors, lawyers, nurses, and politicians. The lessons that we teach them now will come back to them later. Empathy is not a buzz word used in a political speech, it is an honest to God need in our society and the reason why we as people don’t move Forward.