Not long ago a friend was at a high school basketball game; the home team, from a wealthy community, was losing to the visiting inner city team. My friend was horrified to hear the home team students start chanting “We don’t care, we won’t fuss, someday you will work for us!”
He was even more aghast when he realized that many of the parents were joining in.
That’s why some schools are working to change kids’ MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) by finding ways to teach empathy; programs such as Second Step and Roots of Empathy seem to be working in the schools using them.
Empathy is especially important for those kids from wealthy areas whose parents often have (hopefully) unconscious, elitist MAP.
But it’s hard to empathize with things you’ve never experienced.
Neither adults nor kids can understand hunger if they’ve always been able to eat when they feel like it.
It’s not just feeling hungry, cold, wet, etc. that creates empathy; it’s enduring them beyond where it’s comfortable that allows people to get some idea of what millions face every day.
Few adults like venturing outside their comfort zone and kids like it even less, but learning empathy requires discomfort. Go ahead, you’ll survive—I promise.
Please take a few minutes to read the article and think about your own level of empathy and the levels of those around you—at home, at work and elsewhere.
Then think about what you can do to increase empathy in your little corner of the world. Perhaps then we can replace one e-word, entitlement with another, empathy.
If everybody does that the whole world really will change.
Image credit: flickr