Barack Obama famously said:
“If we hope to meet the moral test of our times... then I think we’re going to have to talk more about the empathy deficit. The ability to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes, to see the world through somebody else’s eyes.”
Empathy has the power to understand others and allows us to enter imaginatively into their thoughts and feelings and therefore respond in an appropriate way.
It is the ability to step into another shoes. To look at life from another’s perspective. It is more than just sympathy. As by truly imagining and looking at life through someone else's eyes, we may begin to see as they do. The unknown stranger becomes known. And perhaps we may see that we are the same. Because of this, empathy has the ability to be a tool for social change. Some may even say that it has the power to transform ourselves and some of the biggest issues facing our society. ie poverty, violence etc.
At The Intersection we strive to make an empathic world and believe that teaching about how to become more empathetic with all types of people, not just those like you, is a significant 21st century tool to learn.
We sort ourselves into like groups, giving us a sense of belonging and connection with like-minded people. We benefit from living in a homogenous community but it also means we become more extreme in our views. When everyone around you agrees with you, its hard to understand why others don’t, thus creating a division of 'us and them' and a mentality of, you're either with us or against us. This polarisation is becoming more apparent in Australian society. One only needs to recall the last election of 2018 to see its effects.
An important question in life is: how do we live together, recognising that other people are different from me?
At The Intersection we believe that empathy and connection are the answer to this question, but that connection needs to be diverse. We need to embrace difference and diversity for our own growth, health and healing.
As Hannah Gadsby so eloquently put it :
“Diversity is strength, difference is a teacher”