Empathy Or Compassion?

Of course, both empathy and compassion are possible, and both are important. The question here is: is one more important than the other?

Share why if you wish.

Empathy Or Compassion?

How Do We Come Together?

In our current society, there are a number of factors that have divided us into different camps. How do we reverse that and come together?

There are many reasons why we look at our fellow human beings with increased distrust.

Politicians use fear and distrust of others to motive their constituents. When news outlets promote conflict, they are rewarded with increased viewership, more clicks, or a higher circulation. As more families fall into or toward poverty, they fight desperately for livelihoods.

And yet, most significant advancements have been made when we work together as a society. Advancing life spans, reduction of widespread disease, better understanding of the world around us — these things are all made possible through cooperation.

It’s not realistic to expect that everyone will agree on all, or even most, issues. But how can we disagree, yet still make progress?

Can we somehow look at our economic, political, religious rivals and somehow see our similarities rather than our differences? How do we come together after being driven so far apart? Particularly when physically coming together is limited due to the global pandemic?

Related questions: Why are we so antagonistic? How can we encourage debate? How do you know who to trust? Is our attention fractured? Division or unity?

What Trait Is Most Missing From Our Society?

I often hear people lamenting some trait that has gone missing from our society. If we want to go back to happier, more productive days (so the theory goes) we need to return a particular behavior to our national discourse.

For example, some say we need civility. Others might suggest we have a lack of honesty. Or respect, compromise, empathy, or even a willingness to listen.

Is there a particular trait or behavior that we seem to be missing? Which ones do you think are most important to a healthy society?

Related questions: Why are we so antagonistic? What makes a community? Why do we hate? How important is respect? Where is society failing?

What Is Your Bubble?

It is only natural that we all live in our own little news bubble. Opinions we hear tend to be like ours, and the result is an echo chamber repeating what we already know.

However, knowing that you live in a bubble, and trying to be aware of other bubbles, is key to empathizing with others. You have to know what people think, and why they think it, if you want to have hope of having a constructive conversation.

How did we get here?

How we grow our bubbles seems pretty logical. Our friends, family, and neighbors share what information and news that they know. They share with us their own opinions, and you can’t help but be influenced by that.

Other people, with differing views, might live far away, or you don’t come into contact with them. For instance, they might be separated from you geographically, or socioeconomically, or politically.

How you get out of a your own news silo, or expand it, is a little less clear. For example, you might seek out other news sources, or think about what voices are missing among your friends and family, and try to add them. This is not easy.

Unfortunately, the current environment makes it even harder. As a society, we are growing ever more polarized. Entire counties and even states are deemed to be one type of political party. In addition, the wealth gap continues to grow. Compromise is seen as a dirty word, rather than a way to find common ground.

Now what?

Despite the difficulty, it can be very rewarding. It is possible to understand what fears people have. Why they spend, vote, and act the way that they do. Once you know this, it will be easier to address these concerns and win them over.

Moreover, you can’t expect others to step outside their bubble if you aren’t willing to do it yourself.

None of this, though, can be done if you don’t understand the bubble that you inhabit. After all, do you know your internal biases and assumptions? Is it a priority of yours to know people who disagree with you? What is your bubble?

Related questions: How can we encourage meaningful conversation? How do you know who to trust? What are you doing to make the world a better place? How can we become better listeners? What is necessary to change your mind?

How Can We Encourage Meaningful Conversation?

Sometimes it seems like conversation is a dying art.

We don’t talk much anymore. In-depth discussions have been replaced with small talk. Long, rambling phone calls are now five second Vine videos. A ten page, hand-written letter is now a text message.

Why is this?

Generally, there are many reasons for this change. Technology, in the form of smart phones and social media, encourages brevity. We are warned to avoid controversial topics as a way of keeping the peace. In addition, an entire generation of young adults have grown up online, where tone of voice and body language are non-existent.

As a result, we grow ever more isolated from those around us. People are not confronted with differing opinions. We don’t often talk to people with opposing views, and when we do it devolves to a shouting match. Violence is increasingly more common. Consequently, entire communities are dismissed and ignored.

Is it all bad?

And yet, we still crave conversation. We want to be intellectually stimulated. Ted Talks, for example, are wildly popular, and can be thought of as the first half of a conversation. The vlogbrothers, Hank and John Green, are YouTube celebrities based on their ongoing weekly video chats. So the desire exists in each of us for communication of ideas, and the act of sharing them with our friends and acquaintances.

So how can we revive the art of conversation? How do we overcome our dependency on the endless Facebook newsfeed scroll, and engage each other in an actual dialogue? Can we recapture the give and take, the challenge of ideas, the talk for sake of the talk? In short, to be exposed to new ideas and new points of view?

How can we encourage meaningful conversation?

Related questions: What do we have in common? How can we encourage debate? Are we too busy? How can we become better listeners? What do you get out of social media?