In Search of Empathy

For every happy, thoughtful post, there is the challenging day that doesn’t get shared. For every  parenting success, there will soon come a parenting stumble. Every job success is tempered by internal politics and optics. No one has perfected living through this life, and if they claim to, you might want to check what they’ve hidden away out of sight.  

We tend to gloss over the difficulties in our day to day, and it’s no wonder when you look around at how the masses respond to those sharing their struggles. There is judgement in the, “you should have known.” There is apathy in the, “so many have it worse, how dare you feel anything.” No one wants a true answer to “how are you?” We have been conditioned to show only the success (but don’t be too successful) while smothering the pain that often accompanies us along the journey. 

In demanding others only show us their best, to perform every minute of every day throughout the year without stumbling, we have created a world where anxiety rules. If you are feeling down, you should be more grateful. If you aren’t the right body shape, you should do something about that moral failing. If you’ve had a bad day with your kids, how dare you, you chose to have them. If you show us your vulnerabilities we will skewer your character. Everything is your fault and we will make sure you know it.

Where has empathy gone? Why is it impossible for us be able to put ourselves in another’s shoes for a bit. How have we lost the ability to acknowledge that life, regardless of the specifics and details, can at times be less than perfect? Are we too lazy to try to see another’s view, even if in the end we may still disagree with or dislike their position?

We have taken small slights and misunderstandings and turned them into an ongoing war. When we are laser focused on the minutiae of everyday, we lose sight of the ideals truly worth fighting for. Life has become us versus them, where “them” is everyone else. We have created a space where there can no longer be a dialog of understanding, a place where minds and ideas may actually be changed for the better or a place for support. In its place, we have left a cacophony of differences screamed across the void. There is no longer listening, only speaking, and they who speak the loudest control the narrative. 

Published by Jill Robinson

Speech-Language Pathologist. Writer. Athlete. Wife. Mother. Animal lover. Not necessarily in that order.

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