Sunday, July 17, 2011

Empathy, an essential

Three weeks ago I attended a workshop in US Institute of Peace. I met people from different professional backgrounds who had one thing in common, they are all peace-seekers. Around the same time, I also finished a nine weeks online course on Peace Education from University of Peace, Costa Rica

Photo moment at the Institute  
During this time, I was blessed with some good information regarding peace and related issues that I have been trying to process and will share as I make sense of it :-)

One thing that was reinforced repeatedly is that empathy is indispensable in the peace process. The good news is that most of us possess empathy, which according to Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (1995) is described as, "A cognitive awareness and understanding of the emotions and feelings of another person. In this sense the term's primary connotation is that of an intellectual or conceptual grasping of the affect of another." 

Don't be blind to the feelings for those who surround you, be aware of them. Don't confuse empathy to sympathy, it is not about feeling pity or sorry for others but it is about trying to understand what they are feeling and how it feels. 

Simon Baron-Cohen points out that lack of empathy leads a human being to be cruel. There are people that are born without empathy but not all turn to be cruel, while others that are born with empathy that could turn to be cruel. But all those who are cruel surely lack empathy either totally or substantially. 

Therefore, we must try to practice and develop empathy for each other. One excellent way is by listening to others with an open heart. By listening and understanding the feelings of others, we can handle the situation in a more compassionate manner. 

We can also teach listening skills to our friends and family. Empathy on both sides leads to greater mutual understanding and therefore drastically reduces conflict.

Let us bond with empathy for each other regardless of differences in opinion, world-view, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, cast or race. Let us bond with empathy and embrace peace! 


  1. Very true, I feel listening is really important in any relationship. However, learnt a new concept. Great post!

  2. So true, these are small things, but matter so much!
    Do watch ZNMD, they air some similar thoughts in there!!

  3. A very important thing for human beings. We are capable of some higher level abilities and Empathizing is one of them. The lack of it is ruining the world as we can see..

  4. Empathy has become a very rare virtue. People rarely show the patience to understand others!
    Good article. Keep blogging

  5. truly remarkable :)

    Weakest LINK


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