Sunday, September 28, 2014

Is an empathetic society within our reach or is it merely intangible?

After viewing Jeremy Rifkin's "The Empathetic Civilization" our class began to discuss the barriers that were holding empathy back from solving our problems. We discussed major issues that were inflicting our world such as hunger, terrorism, illness, super-patriotism and many many others. Rifkin discussed various aspects of empathy in his video, but something in particular stuck out to me. He mentioned that countries are just fictions. I found this intriguing because we live in a world where every country has its own sense of pride and nationalism and Rifkin included a topic that questions their existence. A question that was raised by this concept is what makes us "American" or any other classification besides the fact that we reside in those specific countries. For example, if a patriotic american were to move to another foreign country he/she would no longer be an American but an alien to the country as others are claimed to be. We can't help our worldwide divisions, but while these factions might allow the people within it become closer, at the same time they are cut off from the rest of the world. Even in our own individual schools we act differently with the other grades. The upperclassmen might ridicule the underclassmen for their behavior or immaturity just because they feel superior to these "inferior" grades. I am not blaming anyone, as I am guilty myself, but it's just something we can't help.
Think about our world as a bar graph, while each group/separation is another bar. Would you ever think to connect the dots on a bar graph? No, because there is nothing to connect. In comparison, it would be pointless in ever trying to connect our groups because we can't join something that was never one.
It's sad to say but imagining an empathetic society is all we can do. A world full of peace is simply unattainable. Part of our human nature is to want what we can't have, because not having something drives us to desire it more. But if one day we were to obtain this empathy, would we still want it and use it to our advantage? Or would we just abandon the thought and move onto something else?
We cannot engineer humans to have this specific mindset because of the fact that we are flawed beings. We have the capability to act with selfless generosity but also insensitivity to others, it just depends on our mood. It seems as if when everything is going well in our lives that's when we would be kind to others. On the contrary, when bad events control people they can't feel for others because they are too busy battling with themselves to compliment others. So unless we find a way to ensure that everything that happens to us is good, then only will we be able to try to even gain this sort of society.
On the other hand there is always that possibility that our world can have too much empathy. Let's say our world somehow achieved this empathetic society, wouldn't this sense of empathy drive everyone's lives? Soon enough everyone would just start to feel bad for everyone else and there would be no space for any of the other positive emotions that define mankind. Empathy would wire itself into our brains up to the point where we would only see what a person has lost and not what they have gained. With everyone being empathetic there would be no room for positive criticism and commentary that could make someone improve because people would just tell people that everything is perfect when in reality every aspect could be flawed. We might see something healthy but think it's diseased and try to cure it with empathy as if it's medicine.
But sometimes empathy just isn't enough. Empathy just means we are able to feel for another person and share the same feelings. However crying over something will not solve the problem. Even if we were to gain universal empathy, everyone will indeed feel bad for each other but will each individual do something about what is going on? Most people can be persuaded to help but there will always be that group of people that just won't or can't do anything about it, even if they do care. People might be emotionally or financially unstable to help a cause which expands into more problems even after empathy could be achieved. Empathy is something that should be felt by us humans and indeed people should become more empathetic but depending on empathy to solve our problems just doesn't make sense because part of living life is battling our problems. What is success if we never fought for it? 

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading the evolution of your thoughts and use of examples here, Neeha. Please share more of your thoughts in class!