Every year Unified Caring Association holds scholarship contests. In the latest round we asked, “If you could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, what would you change?” The responses were full of creative and wonderful ideas. As we read the entries we notice some themes arising. One of these themes is focused on empathy.
Empathy is “…the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy) Feeling for and connecting with others is very important for caring for others and our world. High school students Alice Owen, Joel Rivera Ojeda and Nicole Svagr agree.
Empathy coupled with Presence
Alice Owen wrote on how empathy and physical presence work in conjunction to make the world a more caring place. She continues to expand upon this by commenting on how society has adopted interacting through technology over face to face interactions. Having presence in our conversations creates a stronger and more memorable interaction. “The power of simple presence to combat our loneliness epidemic has been thus far underestimated.” Ultimately the more time we spend with others, the more of a caring impact we have upon them and their lives.
Existing in the other person’s shoes…
Joel Rivera Ojeda follows up on empathy with his essay. “If I could change one thing in the world to make it a more caring place, I would change people’s hearts to be more open towards others and to feel more empathy.” Opening our hearts can be scary and difficult, but ultimately it is one of the primary ways we can be empathetic towards others. Understanding and adopting an empathetic stance allows us to “…focus more on the fundamental human needs and desires we all share.” He continues to expand on this thought by commenting on openness and respect. These allow us to truly see and hear others. Overall “…we might find out we wanted the same thing all along.” This comprehension through empathy will allow us to solve problems and end conflicts. Ultimately helping future “…generations see a new way of resolving issues peacefully and with compassion. It would also help unite people. The togetherness could help them socialize and find new ways to relate to each other.” This is done by feeling compassion for each other while putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes (a.k.a. empathy).
History can show us an empathetic way…
Nicole Svagr is our third scholarship entry who wrote on how empathy is a core value that can help make the world a more caring place. “…empathy leads to connection and, in turn, appreciation. It is the desire to comprehend others that creates bonds and has the power to unite all of humanity.” Nicole has first hand experience that empathy can change people’s minds. And how empathy can create a better, more caring life for everyone. She talks about how throughout history there are records of empathy changing the world, such as “…Schindler’s understanding of the Jews’ plight necessitated him to protect them.” Nicole uses the metaphoric domino effect to explain how an act of empathy can inspire others to perform empathetic acts. These acts could spread across the globe and become self perpetuating.
Empathy to Passion
Unified Caring Association members read these essays and feel our hearts swell. Such caring thoughts and words that often lead to action! We are sure that these caring students will move forward with passion. And they will help make our communities and our world a more caring place.