Life is about perspective. The world is a tumultuous place. At times when discussing current events I will encounter someone who questions why we should care. Being removed from strife is a benefit of a lucky few but it is not an entitlement. None of us are immune to compassion, nor should we be.
There is one unifying reason that you should care about what happens halfway around the world, just as much as what is happening here at home. It could have been you. We do not choose our parents or where we are born. The circumstances under which we are created our beyond our control. It is pure LUCK that separates you from every other person on the planet. I am incredibly thankful that I was able to grow up with the sounds of fireworks in the summer rather than the acknowledgement of daily rocket fire overhead. I was born into a family who could provide a stable upbringing rather than one forced to flee their home and live as refugees.
Now, I am sure there are those who would argue that this is trivial because, well, that DIDN’T happen to them. They won the lottery of birth and don’t see why they should be bothered. Or they may agree that while yes, tragic things may be occurring elsewhere, our attention must be focused at home – that our problems here are more important.
This way of thinking creates a rift by reinforcing an “us vs. them” mentality. That perspective can be incredibly difficult to change. It usually only grows deeper until the only thing we can see are our differences. We SHOULD have learned that by now, but instead, as the old saying goes, we have condemned ourselves to repeat the past.
Empathy is in too short supply today. One of my favorite books, and movies, “To Kill a Mockingbird” contains a line that plays off an old saying and yet is a sentiment all too often dismissed in the face of anger, frustration and misunderstanding. The character Atticus Finch tells his daughter “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view- until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” It is the definition of empathy.
It is an ability that allows for thoughtful solutions – ones that benefit EVERYONE, not just a select few. It is the exact mentality that helps solve issues that are present both here and abroad.
So the next time you read the news or hear of an action that we are to take or a policy that requires a vote – stop and take a moment to step into the shoes of all parties involved and walk around a bit. You might be surprised at the perspective that emerges. My hope is that we will finally LEARN from the past and create a globally compassionate future.