Is the journey to become an empathetic individual truly man-made?
Maya Angelou was once quoted as saying,
“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”
In the midst of more violence with the news of the mass shootings in San Bernardino, California, Angelou’s words seem to have never been more true or resonant. They seem to be the words we’re all searching–not as businesspeople, bosses or journalists–but as human beings. The million-dollar question is: Where do we start?
One might think that, in order to find the answer to this, they must start with things that are busted or broken. They would be right, but negativity would likely be all they’d see.
YouTube sensation Anna Akana has been looking for a better, more uplifting answer for years. The places in which she began her search weren’t necessarily high places, nor necessarily low places. She instead started with simple logic. In the Upworthy.com video shown above, she explains a theory called “Check Your Privilege”.
“When you’re considering somebody else’s plight, be aware of the specific privileges that you were born into so you can set those aside–and accurately try to understand someone else’s situation.”
Akana mentions that this theory isn’t new. In fact, it’s been circulating in our culture and is part of scientific experiments that have successfully tested young people’s ability to empathize with others. The tests also show that children with high competency scores are more likely to lead successful adult lives. In addition, the article from Upworthy.com includes a chart of what the outcome might look like if one would weigh the positives and negatives in their lives.
Having a father who served in the military, Akana also notes that that experience opened her eyes to different customs and cultures–which have allowed her to embrace the “Check Your Privilege” theory even more as an adult. She ends the video by saying, “Not everybody was born with parents who are still together and who support their dreams–or were in a middle class family. It’s so easy to see someone with your own narrow lens, and dismiss what they’re going through. [Or] write off their struggles as excuses or complaints–but we’re moving more towards empathy, and I love that.”
So, is this an unconventional way to look at empathy? Maybe a little. Is our world turned upside down–perhaps more than ever right now? Yes. Do we need all the inspiration we can get? Absolutely. That being said, let’s knock the wall of judgements and preconceived notions down, put our ears to our hearts–and listen.
Photo Credit: Anna Akana/Youtube