The song says what the world needs now is love, but I think we need a little more empathy, or maybe more empathy leads to more love.
Maybe I’m just a grumpy old lady yelling “get off my lawn”. Maybe this is how it’s always been, maybe not, but it seems to me we have lost empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of others. That’s it. Seems a relatively small thing, right? Yet we seem to have lost that ability. In large and small ways, lack of empathy adds up to everyone only caring for themselves. Lack of empathy breeds fear and distrust and eventually hate.
A funny example of today’s lack of empathy: I was at the beach the other day. When I arrived, it was largely empty and I picked out a nice spot in the middle of the emptiness. Shortly after I settled in, a couple arrived at the beach. And promptly sat about five feet from me. And turned on a radio with music blaring. And walked away. Then they started to play bocci ball directly behind me, so hard balls were being rolled directly at my back. The “gentleman” came over to retrieve one of the balls and while bending over to pick it up, lifted his leg and loudly farted. Funny, right? Except that it showed he had ZERO understanding or caring of how I might feel. It was all about them and their entertainment, no matter how it affected others. A complete lack of empathy.
A less funny example: People on the internet. Some one posts something heartfelt or funny or something they’re proud of. Tons of people pile on the post and make fun of it or say how they’ve done it better or post some oneliner response because it amused them, or correct their grammar. Forgetting the original poster and how that might make them feel.
There are far worse examples you can think of where “we” are different from “them” and we blindly dislike them, disagree with them because that’s how it is and we’ve never taken the time to understand.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care for ourselves. I’m not saying we should all be overly sensitive “politically correct” zealots. I AM saying we should all be a lot more empathetic. But how? It’s easy. Really. I promise. Just take a minute. Look around you. For just a minute, imagine the life of the person near you. Try to understand their perspective. You don’t have to agree with it, just try to understand it. That’s it. That’s all. That’s empathy.
Maybe you hold back from farting at a stranger. Maybe you refrain from that zinger on someone’s post. Maybe those little things add up and we can move forward with love and understanding rather than moving backwards with fear and hate.