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The Empathy Gap

"Understanding" - Martin Creed, - image courtesy of Paul Mondesire

Wonderful advances in science and technology―combined with more efficient production and distribution chains―have made access to quality foods, consumer goods, and entertainment easier and cheaper for most of the people on the planet. This is a unique moment in human history!

And yet, we struggle.

Every day there are news stories about serious transgressions against individuals and our shared society that are both troubling and tragic. I believe that those painful episodes are connected to a tremendous “Empathy Gap.”

This void exists in our country and throughout the world. People prefer to demonize all those they define as Other and we are all lesser beings for this weakness.

There is no need to detail which of the many breaches or tragedies prompted me to write about the lack of empathy that we all bear witness to daily. It is more critical for each of us to take a look in the mirror and begin to come to an understanding that our own opinions and perspectives might not be the only ones of value. The concept of “walking a mile” in the shoes of another person is very important, especially in an increasingly interconnected world.

I have lived in New York City all of my life and have been lucky enough to be exposed to people of many races, ethnicities, religious backgrounds, and cultures. These experiences allowed me to be more open to those who might be defined as Other.

With that, I make no claim of complete objectivity. I have my own biases based on my experiences which I willingly acknowledge. I have not lived a suburban or rural life, nor have I lived in other countries where languages and culture intertwine differently. My question for myself and the culture as a whole is simple:

What are we teaching and learning about each other that allows us to fundamentally misunderstand and dismiss the views of people from different backgrounds?

In order to experience feelings of empathy, one has to be open to the possibility that our preconceived notions about others may be mistaken. And then, we must be willing to recognize the core humanity of our fellow travelers in this life. While this is an exceedingly difficult exercise, it is truly the only one that matters for us if we are to live in any type of harmony.

Here at Let’s Check-In, our focus is on your emotional well-being. The issues we talk about related to Caregivers, First Responders, those suffering through the loss of loved ones and other life transitions -- as well as everyone else -- are about the connections that we must have in our lives to make the living worthwhile.

Empathy is at the core of all that we do and it was a catalyst for our decision to make sure there is a real human being ready to listen to you when you call or send us a text. Let's close that gap together.

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