The Era of Empathy

So much happened in 2016…

So much.

And powerful message that I am seeing emerge is the message of empathy. Individuals are taking it upon themselves to spread kindness to those in their immediate community and are even forming organizations or messages for people to share to promote this inclusive message that essentially, we are all humans and all deserve respect and kindness.

Some examples of this action of empathy have been…

The Free Hugs Project started when Ken Nwadike went to the 2014 Boston Marathon Race to spread positivity and hope at the 1st race after the 2013 bombing and has been actively distributing Free Hugs ever since. He visited several campaign rallies in 2016 and had an increased interaction with police given the increased attention on police brutality and violence.

A mother and her child using chalk to share messages of inclusion, acceptance and love in front of a mosque in her community in Tennessee post November election results. I also saw this was done in several different states including, Arizona, Virginia and California.

We have seen an increase in acceptance of young mothers into society and other places where they typically would have been either excluded from. There were several examples of professors welcoming women and their babies to class. Or offering help on airplanes.

Jeremy Rifkin published a book in 2010 The Empathic Civilization in which he details the history of empathy in the fields of psychology, biology and philosophy, he then looks at history and the trends of the rise and fall of civilizations and the last part of the book predicts that we will merge towards a civilization with a more empathetic view of the Earth, with moves towards more sustainable lifestyles and energy sources as well as a form of capitalism he calls “distributed capitalism” to avoid the damage caused to the “have-nots” of an unbridled capitalism. In essence, we will transpose our individual concepts and value of empathy onto the institutions that make our society.

This may seem unlikely given the political environment we are now in, but I think more than anything, it shows us the importance of “being the change we want to see.” We have a responsiblity to create lifestyles that reflect our values and take actions in our own lives and our own communities to make change, we can’t rely on others to do it for us. This is a time for action… more than ever.

 

What can you do?

Yes, day-to-day random acts of kindness are important and they can have huge impacts on morale and an individuals experience, however, we also need to organize as a community more. Our modern society with all its technological advancements make it very easy to communicate but not always to make connections. We should be using technology to help us advance our causes and ways to help and build networks.

Individual Level

First we do have to start with ourselves and our household. Check out this  ScaryMommy empathy article about teaching our children empathy. Evaluate your empathy for the earth and see what ways you can reduce your waste. Check out Trash is for Tossers or The Minimalists for inspiration. Again, you have to evaluate your own thoughts and values and create a plan based on that and your needs.

Community Level

Alicia Sparks has the most concise list I have seen, read her article on the link provided, but the short list is here:

  1. Look for Local Events.
  2. Volunteer Your Time.
  3. Donate Your Resources.
  4. Shop Locally.
  5. Join a Class or Group or other organization (including religious).
  6. Support Your Local Sports Teams.
  7. Organize Your Own Event.

Check out VolunteerMatchIdealist or Points of Light to find organizations in your local area you can join.

Political Level

  1. Join your neighborhood council or school board.
  2. Start a petition
  3. Attend community meetings, hearings, school board meetings and speak up!
  4. Get involved in expressing yourself in public forums, it could be in person, online or in print.
  5. Contact your representatives and advocate for your views and your community – for local, state and national level.
  6. Run or support local politics

 

Here’s to empathy and action in 2017!!

 

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