To understand the suffering of others as though it were one’s own pain is the greatest ability of a human being. The ability to feel empathy is what makes humans special; it is a divine gift from God. The world is falling apart and if it is to have any hope of being saved, people must reconnect with their power of empathy.
People have been deceived into believing that in order to protect themselves and their families, they must shut out the suffering in the world. The voices of fear and mistrust are so often the loudest and most convincing. However, they lead to a broken and deeply flawed road – a road where people see each other, not as brothers and sisters, but as rivals and enemies. On that road, those who suffer are merely casualties to be ignored or learned from.
The gift of empathy was given to people as a buffer against that dangerous type of thinking. When one can look at another human being, or an animal, who is suffering, and truly feel deep in their heart what the other is going through, miracles happen. The natural bond between two or more sentient beings becomes stronger. There is a mutual responsibility that drives the empathetic person to act in order to end the suffering of the other.
The world needs humans to reconnect with their sense of empathy. There has always been suffering in the world. There is no more or less misfortune in modern times. The difference is people now have the ability to end or, at least, reduce much of it. If only the human species would devote its vast resources to the betterment of those less fortunate, what amazing things could be accomplished.
It’s really not a difficult undertaking to promote empathy among people. The emotion already exists naturally in the hearts of men and women. It has simply been suppressed by the overwhelming volume of terrible events in the world that bombard people on a daily and even hourly basis. All it will take is a little shift in thinking; a willingness to open up to the suffering that is in the world, coupled with a determination to do something to end it.
When someone in America see news footage of a hospital being bombed in Syria and hear reports of 60 people – patients and doctors – losing their lives, it is just a story from a country at war. It is distant and unrelated to daily life for that person. However, deep within the person’s heart burns an ember, called empathy. The person realizes that those were people with lives, families and plans for tomorrow that will never be carried out. And this stirs the person to push for a change.
Embracing empathy as a culture, while benefiting those who are suffering through the increase of people’s willingness to help them, is really most beneficial to the culture itself. When a culture is cold and devoid of empathy, it has no connection. Homeless people are pests to be shooed away. The plight of people living in war-torn and foreign-occupied lands are conversation points or political sound bites to be repeated over a cocktail-fueled political debate – nothing that truly affects daily life.
The major fact that is forgotten is that everyone, at some point, gets knocked down. In a world without empathy, whoever falls is on their own. However, in a world where the cultural norm is to feel compassion and empathy for others, there will always be a hand outstretched to help that person back to his or her feet. That is what the world needs most, right now – for human beings who are in positions of strength and stability to emotionally feel the pain of their brothers and sisters who are suffering and to act to help them.
The world is not lost. God has not left people. There is always hope. All it will take to make this world a little bit better, is for people to open up their hearts and see the truth. And once that happens, that “little bit better” grows a little bit bigger, and it keeps on growing. Then, people will have fulfilled their true destiny.