Empathy: The True Necessity In Our Lives

By Diya Ramesh (’23)

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Picture this: You are having your worst day ever! You failed a Math test, missed your bus, cracked your phone, dropped all your papers, and now this. You’re being teased by the school bully, who is making some truly mean and cruel comments, but no one stops to help, not one single person. Your mind is screaming only one question, “Does anyone actually care about me?” Well, the problem is a lack of empathy. Empathy is defined by Dictionary.com as, “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” In simpler terms, empathy is when you try to see what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. For example, In an article from theguardian.com, Mark Honigsbaum describes a study from the University of Chicago about rats’ empathy as they try to release other rats from cages. When the rats were shown two cages, one with chocolate and one with another rat, the rats opened both cages, and usually shared the chocolate with the rats that they freed. How amazing and astounding is that? bIf rats can show empathy, why can’t we as people? Therefore, we should all show empathy for the following reasons,  because humans want to be treated the same way as others, people can be protected through empathy, and that empathy is nothing hard to do.


First of all, we should be empathetic because we would want the same treatment from others. We all are unique individuals, but we have a lot in common For example,  we all share the fact that we are all human, and we all have problems. So, shouldn’t we try to be of some help or comfort, when unfortunate incidents occur in someone else’s life. In their hour of need, learning that others have had similar problems can make someone feel  better. Most of us strive to become good human beings, and making another person feel better is definitely one way to do so. Think about the Golden Rule. Throughout our lives, we, the children of today, hear these same words in school constantly, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Students, like us, hear this so much, but most of us choose to ignore it. However, when you think about it logically, following the Golden Rule can help ensure that you are treated in the same manner in which you treat others. When you are empathetic to someone else, especially in a time of great need, they will never forget your kindness. So, the next time they see someone in need, they are more likely to give back help and comfort. This would create a chain of empathy, cycle around, and eventually, it might come back to you, in your time of need!  


Secondly, we should be empathetic, because empathy helps to protect people. Throughout history, a lack of empathy has led to crimes against humanity. One famous example of this is slavery. If slave owners had even a little bit of empathy, do you think they would have forced innocent people to be treated like property, instead of like humans? Similarly, think of the example of genocide. If some of the Nazis had stopped to think about what horrors they were inflicting upon the Jews and other groups of people, do you think they would have all continued to blindly follow Hitler? So, empathy doesn’t just protect us from being subject to moral injustices, it also protects us from being the cause of them. As I said earlier, having a lack of empathy could lead people to commit cruel acts, because they weren’t able to understand others’ feelings. Instead, during childhood, if  they were taught to show some empathy, they might have gone down a better path. Clint Witchalls, in his article, “Why a lack of empathy is the root of all evil”, explains this. But, we must also compliment people when they show empathy t because it encourages them to continue to be empathetic. If we don’t constantly work towards being more empathetic, individuals, such as you and I, can become cruel. However, with the power of empathy, we could save the world from disaster! 


Finally, we should be empathetic, because empathy is not hard to give. Empathy does not require any money, a large effort, or even a lot of time. For example, think of someone who is having a bad day at school. Just a simple gesture, like a kind word, a pat on the back, or asking them if they are alright lets them know that someone cares and brightens their day. Now, think about it, is empathy really so hard to give? Since it’s easy to do, why don’t we… help someone who dropped their belongings in the hallway to pick up their stuff, carry something for someone who is carrying a lot, and hold a door open for others. Let’s all say “Thank you!” to our parents, teachers, family, friends, classmates, or anyone else who has helped us. Let’s clean up after ourselves, so that others, like janitors, don’t have to work harder. These are just some of the numerous simple, but meaningful ways, in which we can show empathy. Always remember that empathy is so easy to give, because all you need is your heart. So, take that small step, utilize your heart, and make a difference.


 In conclusion, we should be more empathetic, because we would want others to do the same  for us, empathy offers people protection, and empathy is simple to give. As Mahatma Gandhi, who helped India gain independence, through kindness and peace, once famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” So, let’s all be that change, by showing more empathy!


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