Empathy has been defined as putting yourself in the shoes of another, knowing within yourself how they feel and what they need you to do, or say, or not say, in the moment. But how can you have empathy if you’ve never had to walk the path that someone else has had to walk? Because of the recent, terrible acts of racism and social injustice, I’ve been thinking about how yes, I’m white, but what can I do to help. It’s causing me to examine my own biases, as never before.
Ignorance is a blinder to empathy. The trouble with ignorance is that we may not even know when we are “ignoring” something vital that’s right in front of us. Even more criminal is choosing not to know. This contributes to the problem just as much as actively participating in it. This is the time when doing nothing is not acceptable, for doing nothing is actively making the problem worse.