The Importance of Empathy

Empathy is defined as simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This ability is something so essential to being human, but is commonly avoided by many.

“When I think of the word empathy I think of the ability to see the world through other people’s eyes and to understand that people go through different things in different ways,” said Lebanon High School teacher Jeff Smock.

Although fully understanding someone is not always a possibility, being able to care about everyone is important.

“I know that I may not completely understand that because I have not lived that, but I can at least appreciate their perspective on things,” said Smock.

Being similar to someone is not what makes them valuable.

“A lot of people talk about morals, but I just think in general that you need a sense of understanding that everyone is different in their own ways, and even if you do not necessarily agree with those differences, you can still appreciate those differences,” said Smock.

Differences should not be a divide between people. You can relate to others despite differences.

“At the end of the day you may still differ, but it is important that it does not drive you to a point that there is some massive divide between you,” said Smock.

Smock believes that empathy could entirely change the atmosphere of our school, community, and world.

“It could make a big time difference a lot of the things you see out in the world whether it would be violence, theft, or even just how we treat people in general, I think if that [empathy] were more of a focus in people’s homes it would make a bigger impact,” said Smock.

A change can only start at home.

“The way people are in their homes is the way that they really are and the quickest and best way for empathy to be prevalent is to talk about it at home and for parents to teach their kids about it as well as children asking their parents questions about what empathy means,” said Smock.

Having or lacking empathy can even be an indication of who you are.

“It is one of the most fundamental things that I consider what good people have… the general idea of being able to understand life from another’s perspective,” said Smock.

Being selfless is closely related to empathy as taking the focus off of yourself in necessary to have empathy.

“It could change everything; a lot of society’s problems are based on greed and selfishness. Sometimes those things go hand and hand with a lack of empathy because sometimes all you are worried about is yourself and not the common good,” said Smock

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