The continuous lack of empathy and understanding in our society has placed a rift in the establishment and preservation of the relationships between citizens. The single story of judging people based on their demeanor and actions in school and failing to view the full picture of one’s life can be dangerous to the creation; or lack of relationships between classmates. This single story positions students in a place where they are judged unfairly on only one part of their lives.
Empathy is needed in a relationship because it institutes respect and trust through our ability to distinguish and respond to other’s feelings. Alda states, “Compassion is feeling sorry for somebody, to some extent, but empathy is getting a reading as well as you can of what they’re going through, what they may be suffering from.” Empathy is an extension of compassion and is key to having a fulfilling relationship. It is also the ability to have the courage to share our feelings and thoughts with each other. Empathy goes beyond looking at things from another’s perspective. In fact, “It just means that considering certain aspects of the whole picture, you get a different conclusion” (Alda). By fully looking at one’s life and their circumstances, our perspective of them can change completely. For example, at Rosary my classmates only see one side of me, they are unable to observe my life outside of school. How I function and respond to different events in my life may make one of my classmates want to establish a relationship with me. Harris states, “‘And that’s something that’s necessary in local communities; it’s necessary in elementary schools, on a collegiate level and in a corporate boardroom.”’Empathy is needed to build respect in relationships in all areas of our lives. Not viewing the whole picture is dangerous because we are unable to institute connections with others that could be valuable later in our lives.
“Alan Alda On The Importance of Empathy During The COVID-19 Pandemic.” NPR, NPR, 13 September 2020, www.npr.org/2020/09/13/912424799/alan-alda-on-the-importance-of-empathy-during-the-covid-19-pandemic. Accessed 14 October 2020.
Burnett, John. “Stefan Harris – Vibraphonist, Educator, Thinker – Teaches Empathy From The Bandstand.” NPR, NPR, 30 March 2020, www.npr.org/2020/03/30/822024071/stefon-harris-vibraphonist-educator-thinker-teaches-empathy-from-the-bandstand. Accessed 14 October 2020.