Empathy, Freedom and Respect

“Always put yourself in the other person’s shoes. If you feel it hurts you, it probably hurts the other person too.” ~Unknown

In this country, we have certain freedoms and rights, 2 of which are Personal Freedom and Freedom of Speech. However, with these rights we also have responsibilities. The biggest responsibility we have is to respect each other – even if we despise each other. For example, you are free to say whatever you want, even if I don’t like what you say. At the same time, you need to respect my right to say what I want, even if you don’t like it.

I have noticed that as each generation passes, we care less and less for our fellow citizen, unless there’s a tragedy like a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Even then it’s short lived. We’ve become increasingly less respectful and tolerant of each other. We call each other names or violently protest while looting or burning someone’s business. We also interact on a personal level much less than we used to.

As a people watcher, I sit back and try to look objectively at what goes on in the world around me. Over the last couple decades or so, technology and social media has evolved significantly, and I can see how they have shaped us as a civilization. It seems to me that these things have played a large part in how the younger generations behave and interact with each other.

Social media was started as a way to connect with others wherever they are in the world. Now it’s a place where we air our grievances along with our dirty laundry. It’s a place where humorous posts or comments are made at another person’s expense and battles over politics are waged by people who don’t even know each other. Cell phones were created so that we could communicate with each other outside of our homes. They’ve since become miniature computers that can do just about anything we need them to, including our ability to get on social media.

Simply put, all this electronic stuff replaced a lot of the personal contact that we as a human race once had with one another. It’s taken away our empathy for each other.

I of all people know these electronic devices make life easier and they are wonderful babysitters, however making a bad decision in a game or on social media doesn’t exactly get punished. You can always simply reset the game or stop looking at a thread unlike in real life. Other factors that have contributed to our children lacking empathy are parenting styles and what the family unit looks like(single parent, foster care, etc). These things over time affect how we turn out as adults.

Empathy is being able to personally identifying another person with or “Putting yourself(walking a mile) in another person’s shoes “. Not to be confused with sympathy which is compassion and sorrow you feel for another person. It’s one thing to feel sorry for another person but it’s a whole other thing to be able to understand how another person feels. I mean truly understand how they feel.

In light of our current political climate, I have a couple of questions for you. Do you like living in a place of anger and hate all the time? Is this the kind of life you want for your children, grandchildren and so on? If your answer is no, then let’s work together to change things for the better.

One way we can begin to change is to turn the electrical device(s) off for a while. If you’re like I was, start out gradually with a half hour to an hour at a time and work your way up to longer times. Before you know it, you’ll be leaving your phone on the table and walking outside without it like I do.

Next, have the whole family sit down for dinner. Talk WITH each other, not AT each other. I know with kids and their extra curricular activities this can be very difficult. At the very least do it twice a week. Doing this helps to build bonds with our family which can extend out to building lasting friendships and other relationships with other people. Having empathy takes a little more work.

I heard something on the news one night. It was the 16th anniversary of September 11, 2001, America’s worst terrorist attack, and one day after a 2nd major hurricane hit the United States in 2 weeks. All 3 events saw a lot of destruction and many people died, were wounded or affected in some way. Something good did come out of each event. Racial, religious, gender, socio-economic and political party lines that divided us were erased and people helped other people.

Let me repeat that. Complete strangers reached out to other complete strangers and offered help no matter what their race, creed, gender socio-economic or political affiliations were.

I’ve heard and seen some downright rude stuff on the news and social media that other people have reportedly said about the hurricane victims. These people blamed the victims for what happened to them. The list of reasons were because those people voted for President Trump, they support police officers or our military service members, or they deny climate change. Simply put, the hurricanes hit because these people disagree with them politically. That’s about as ridiculous as me saying all the forest fires out west are because you disagree with me and my political views.

I would like to challenge everyone reading this to do something. Imagine that you’re someone going thru any one of or all of those events. Pick an example, any example:

  1. Job loss
  2. Divorce
  3. Homelessness due to financial problems, mental illness, natural disaster or fireBeing called names like racist, bigot, etc.
  4. Being lied to or gossiped about
  5. Being a firefighter, paramedic or any profession
  6. Being picked on, bullied, discriminated against, abused sexually, physically, mentally or emotionally
  7. Being a good police officer and hearing chants like “Pigs in a blanket…” or projectiles are hurled at you from the people you are protecting.
  8. Disagreeing with someone because of who you voted for and being called a racist, bigot, etc
  9. Someone saying untrue things about you – anything untrue.

How would it feel to you? I’ll bet that your answer will be the same as the other person going thru it. Maybe you or someone you know has experienced any one or more of those things. If you say that none of the above events would affect you at all, I’d call you a liar. On some level, you would feel something – even if it’s a little tug on your heart.

If we are to make the world a better place for future generations we need to start by changing our attitudes and become more open minded. If we don’t…well, I dread the thought of where we’ll end up in the future. Let’s start today to make some positive changes in our lives that help the people around us rather than hurting them. It is possible to do if we work together.

Thought for the day: Freedom and Respect go hand in hand. To have Freedom we need to have Respect for others around us.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts


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About Bella’s Thoughts. This is a project that I began in my mind a number of years ago when I began reading some daily meditations. I had my own thoughts on many occasions and attempted to journal many times without success. It began to take shape when I took on another project for a Spiritual Advisor and dear friend who past away. To learn more about me read my very first blog post. For more daily reflections go to... https://www.facebook.com/Stephanies-Sweetgrass-and-Dancin-1414954615472943/

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