Make America Empathetic Again

I can’t take credit for the phrase in the headline; I heard it on talk radio at some point this weekend. However, I’ve been wrapping my head around its genius ever since. Just to make sure that we’re all on the same page, empathy is the ability to share in another’s emotions or feelings. Listen closely to discussions of politics during this election cycle and you’re likely to hear an utter lack of empathy from either camp. Why bother trying to understand what members of the other party feel when you’re absolutely convinced you’re right, and that they’re idiots?

I don’t mean to suggest that we can solve all our problems by holding hands around a campfire and singing “Kumbaya” together. However, it may be a starting point. People with divergent ideals need to see the importance of listening to and respecting each other. Law and order conservatives, for instance, do not invite others to take them seriously when they cannot empathize with family members of those killed by the police. Similarly, progressives do themselves no favors when they would solve funding problems for entitlement programs merely by taxing the wealthy at higher rates. I don’t know if the lack of empathy on either side results from a lack of heart, a lack of imagination, or something else entirely. Regardless, the discourse between the candidates and their supporters must become more civil.

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22 Responses to Make America Empathetic Again

  1. Jagger Riggle says:

    There is not enough empathy in the world today. Many people believe only they are correct and will not budge from that belief. If people would empathetic, and see what it was like to be on the other side, then they would be more apt to helping them rather than just saying, “You’re wrong.” The media is very biased and contributes to the lack of empathy. They usually only report one side to enrage people or to drive the different sides farther apart. If the media became less bias and people tried to see what it was like to be on the opposing side, many of today’s problems could be fixed, or at least they could be dealt with in more productive ways.

  2. Erin Owens says:

    I think that everyone will benefit if our leaders will adopt empathy. We need to be able to talk to each other about what we feel is important and respectfully keep the other sides opinion in mind. You never truly learn anything if you don’t put yourself on either sides of the story.

  3. Mariana Strawn says:

    The world lacks true empathy. Just look at our political season, the slandering of either candidate and their supporters leaves little room for the opposing candidate to come back and say “I truly feel your pain, it is justified”. This is the root of the American struggle for unity; if we cannot find it within ourselves to truly feel the pain of others, then we cannot truly unite as one nation. In terms of making American “empathetic” again, perhaps we never were. Perhaps no nation ever was. But that doesn’t been we should stop striving to be better than who we are.

  4. Sarah Swiderski says:

    You are absolutely correct. However, even before the election occurred, I only saw divides growing stronger. This lack of empathy is a tactic utilized in military conflicts-particularly in propaganda-which proved effective until the First World War(generally speaking). It was then that people themselves felt the lack of empathy their own countries felt for them and in turn realized-shocker-that the people they were fighting against weren’t actually that bad. Yes, this led to a backlash of Disenchantment and severe weakening of nationalism, but my point is that if people would just think for themselves, maybe America would be a better place.

  5. Kayla Patel says:

    I think that more often than not people confuse empathy with sympathy. Empathy is the ability to SHARE in another’s emotions or feelings, and sympathy is caring and understanding the emotions without being able to have experienced them. People are too full of themselves and think they are right all of the time, instead of taking the time to listen to the one or the other side of the story. It would be very unfortunate for a candidate to confuse the two or lack either trait altogether. The candidate would have to understand these traits to serve the people, which requires the ability to listen to peoples’ problems.

  6. Kendall Wells says:

    The lack of empathy between both parties is sickening. The amount of violence that happened during and as a result of the election is heartbreaking. Americans have become so selfish and don’t want to hear the other side of the story. Many people who think their party is the only correct party are not educated about the other party. I think that before people form an opinion, they should be at least fairly educated on the subject matter. The problem Americans face today is that it’s hard to form an educated opinion because of social media. Social media influences peoples’ opinions so easily nowadays and people don’t think for themselves anymore. Having an empathetic America is an awesome thought, but will sadly never be a reality.

  7. Steven says:

    Empathy is definitely crucial to building a more stable and progressive society, but it alone is less than sufficient. It is almost always a means of deception in modern society. Politicians understand what empathy is. Democrats preach it excessively, as could be seen in Hillary’s campaign: “Stronger together”. What use is this nice, flowery language if it’s obvious that she barely has any clearly defined policy for reform? Now with Donald Trump’s nomination, true empathy is even further out of our reach. A typical Republican talking point is that minorities love to reproduce and leech off welfare. They argue to cut social benefits, keep a low minimum wage, and repeal Obamacare. All of this is supported by the base which believes this will lower their taxes. While their low tax fantasy is being fulfilled by these corrupt war hawks, America is silently falling apart in the background. The truth is, these short term satisfactions will never truly “make America great” as long as the country continues with these cynical sentiments and its leaders cannot be judicious.

  8. Amber Jackson says:

    I think the lack of empathy comes from the possession of power and lack of consequence. They’re not civil because they don’t have to be. It’s not required and there’s not a big consequence for being uncivil because they’re in power. It’s like smart people have to be nice to those less unfortunate because they don’t have the same opportunities. Well yeah, they should (And it makes sense) BUT they don’t HAVE to. It’s a faulty argument, I know. Regarding the headline, I think that most people are inherently evil. It takes continuous effort to be a decent person and not an a**hole. <-(bc it's very easy to be one.) Most people aren't empathetic because it isn't necessary to achieve success/be powerful.

  9. Madalyn Coln says:

    I mean, is this the best you can do, America? It’s quite frustrating to me. It is obvious that across the population, we are torn between the two candidates… and no matter who becomes president, *someone* will always be upset about the results. Now, we have people causing more violence because of the results of the election. I am hoping this all ends soon. There is no empathy. The Democrats are upset.. bitter.. angry.. but I understand why! Then, the Republicans are either ecstatic or disappointed by their own party, which is also justifiable. I think that the best thing that could come as a result of the lack of empathy is a weakened dual party system. I have always hated the idea of two parties controlling everything; come on, America! This isn’t the Hatfields and Mccoys! Just get yourself together, accept what has happened, **have some empathy for others**, and ultimately, learn from this so that we can make the next election less of a pain for everyone.

  10. Landry Filce says:

    I cannot understand why anyone who claims to be an empathetic person could vote for Donald Trump. He has degraded women over and over again, saying that the only valuable thing about them is their sex appeal, bragging about sexually assaulting women, and denying other sexual assault accusations on the grounds that the women were “too ugly” to sexually assault. He is against abortion and will do nothing to help ensure equal pay in the workplace. Women will undoubtedly suffer from a Trump presidency. So would racial minorities, as Trump has repeatedly said he wants to deport Latino people and Muslims. I don’t see how anyone who supports Donald Trump can claim to be empathetic.

  11. Mariat Thankachan says:

    A good leader is one who listens to others and considers their opinions. I wonder if the candidates possess this trait because so far, they have only put on a show of knocking each other down in any way that they possibly can. They have not tried to understand where the other person is coming from or learn the thought process by which their opponent functions. Empathy is a very valuable quality and it can help individuals get where they want to be, but considering other people’s feelings can be tough sometimes, especially if all you want to do is further your own success.

  12. Shuchi Patel says:

    (Warning: I got off topic.) Yes, there were times in history when people were emphatic. And, there were times were people were persecuted. Now, people are so caught up in the moment that they do not see that they’re hurting others. If people thought about how their actions would affect others’ emotions, the world would be a better place. Instead of picking apart flaws, we should praise individuals for good traits that he or she has. You never know what a person is going through. While you are busy judging them, they might not already feel good about themselves. You can not just completely disagree with everything a person says. I believe we should all be more open to people’s opinions and stop judging.

  13. Aurelia Caine says:

    Make America Empathetic Again? Our problem is that we listen to respond and not listen to understand. If we were to actually listen to others and try to comprehend what they are expressing, then we might actually be able to relate or even agree with them. Once we see others point of view and try to feel how they feel then things go smoother. But then again, in order to make something return to a state, it has to have been in that state before…

  14. Briana Johnston says:

    Watching the presidential debates showed that all the candidates cared about was themselves. The candidates, one of whom will become the head of our country within the next week, only berated the other on the ideas they had. Yes, some of the ideas are incredibly wrong and I don’t support them, but I believe that instead of the candidates focusing only on their individual goals, they should evaluate the others propositions. They should then take the ideas they just spent time thinking about and make them more suitable for our nation. Our presidential candidates should learn from the other, from the citizens, and from their critics, instead of being completely self-absorbant.

  15. Vera L. Taire says:

    Americans as a whole do not have empathy. We are a selfish culture. We worship the Gods of me-me-me and more-more-more. Me-me-me is prevalent in our culture.. We see his royal highness in the thrones of facebook, snapchat, vine, and more. We bow down before his altars screaming our bloody hearts out begging someone, anyone to notice us. to love us. to tell us we’re important, that we matter, that we’re better. All the while, we selfishly exchange the currency of likes and follows- I’ll follow you if you follow me. All the while negating friendships, genuine appreciation, and empathy of the human experience.
    We cannot truly care about others until we pull the focus off of our selves. This is a tenet of many, many religions.
    More-more-more shows up in our advertisements, our stores, our homes, our social media. We’re a wealthy, niggardly (my apologies for the etymology) society and we place value on cheap experiences. Like a child, we reach for the polyester princess suit and fake, gaudy jewels, not realizing they’re mere copies of the real thing.
    Our lives are shallow. Hollow.
    We want more for less yet we already have too much. Lack of empathy stems from an abundance of self, an abundance of attention, and an abundance of hedonistic practices.
    We’re headed straight down the toilet from here.

  16. AK Mynatt says:

    People these days are too focused on themselves. We need to expand our views to incorporate other’s well being. If you choose to go through life thinking only of yourself, not much good can come out of that. If we just learn to listen more and talk less, the world could be a more understanding place.

  17. Lydia Holley says:

    The lack of empathy between the two parties has caused most of the violence. I do not support either of the candidates because of Donald Trump’s stupidity and Hillary Clinton’s want of legal abortion up to 36 weeks. I do agree though that during the debates there needed to be more empathy from both candidates instead of just arguing like divorced parents fighting for custody over America, “their children.” We need to make America something and not saying “again.” America was never truly “great” or “empathetic.” We need to make America something and stop all the violence.

  18. Devon M says:

    Although it would be great for presidential candidates to agree with the other side at some points in their candidacy, it is hard to win over the assurance of America when forfeiting to the other side. However, there does not need to be all of the name calling and the third grade “you started it” arguing in debates. I think that a country itself cannot be 100% empathetic solely because we have to make a reputation for ourselves that shows we do not recede to anyone. But yes, there could be some different ways about how politics and campaigns are run nowadays.

  19. Meagan Pittman says:

    In a perfect world, a person would run for a political position because they generally care about the people that they would lead and/or they are passionate about the problems they would be fixing. This idea is highly contrasted with today’s politics, where it seems politicians are solely fixated on their own careers and wrapped up in the party they represent. Debates should focus on a candidates views, plans, and concerns for the American people. However, lately politics has been mainly mud-slinging. And as long as this is the style of interaction among politicians, supporters will mimic. People rarely vote outside of their identified party because politicians hardly ever allow sympathizing with the “other side.”

  20. P. Patel says:

    As time went on, people started to become more selfish than selfless. I believe that our government officials should have respect for others, and not be selfish because our country is valued on their decision. For example, when the news came out that Hillary Clinton deleted her emails it became a sensational news topic. Also, the same could be said about Donald Trump not paying his taxes. I believe that the candidates need to accept their mistakes, but instead they are trying to run away from them.

  21. Kamal Bhalla says:

    My response to “Make America Empathetic Again”, is was America empathetic in the first place? Just like how Donald Trump says that he is going to make America “great again”, when was it so called “great.” So instead of having a “do over”, let’s first make America SOMETHING, if not anything. Because it sure isn’t “great” nor “empathetic.” While America would become wonderful if it was the either or, its not and that’s just the way anyplace is to be frank. But there are ways to make it closer to the goal of making it great and/or empathetic. Getting there is what really we need to be thinking about and not having a “do over” on something that was not even that in the first place.

  22. Brianna Ladnier says:

    Whether it is a civil argument between friends or on the debate stage in front of millions, this election has brought up violence an intolerance from both sides. A large number of Trump supporters can’t imagine someone who is prochoice, proimmigration, and thinks Hillary Clinton could truthfully lead this nation. A large number of Hillary supports can’t image someone who is prolife, anti-immigration, and thinks Donald Trump could lead this nation with a cool head. They believe they are right, and there is no way the other could be correct. Sadly, this leads to violence, and I personally believe that there will be a large spike of violence whenever voting begins. Honestly, I do not care if you are a Trump supporter or a Hillary supporter, but you have to admit that Donald J. Trump is the founder of the violence at his rallies in the past, and I also believe he will be the founder of the violence that will happen when voting begins. Due to his lack of empathy and speaking his mind, he has given almost half of our nation this idea that our system is rigged. That no matter what they do, Hillary Clinton will win. This will anger millions, and many of them will act out with violence. Although I do not support Mr. Donald, I can understand why someone would, but I cannot understand why someone would deny the claims that he is the founder of the majority of this campaign’s violence, and it is due to his lack of empathy.

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