We only need to listen to the news to know that...According to a recent analysis of over 14,000 students, University of Michigan researchers found that “college students who hit campus after 2000 have empathy levels that are 40% lower than those who came before them.”
Click here to read this study.
Another study by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell indicated that narcissism, or self-centeredness has reached levels never before seen in our society. A finding that no doubt has serious implications when it comes to our capacity to experience and understand what others may be feeling.
These studies illuminates a serious epidemic, one that President Obama coined an “empathy deficit.”
Our position is simple and straight forward. We believe at the root of everything we see as good, compassionate, or humanistic in our society is a result of empathy.
However, with empathy on the decline it is no surprise we are seeing so many horrific and tragic events. Just as empathy is the foundation of all things “good”; the absence of empathy is the foundation of everything “bad.” It is really that simple. We are seeing growing incidents of acts of violence, inhumanities, social injustices, and unbelievable cruelties. Take a deep look at these events. What would cause someone to shoot up a school or a mall? What would cause someone to bully a peer into killing themselves, or attack and alienate others just because they have a different religious view, sexual identity, or political belief?
Now some of you may be asking, “What about mental illness?” It seems like mental illness is at the heart of many of the tragedies we have witnessed recently...especially when it comes to mass shootings.
It’s a good question, but again it all comes back to empathy.
A significant driver to many psychiatric conditions, especially attachment disorders, is...you guessed it...a lack of empathy. The capacity to empathize is built into the brain at a young age. Early childhood experiences play a critical role in developing brain neuropathways that allow us to understand what it is like to stand in someone else’s shoes. To be able to become an empathic person one must have had consistent, empathic, relational experiences. If a child is brought up in an environment where they are exposed to domestic violence, trauma, abuse, neglect, or a constantly threatening environment the child will end up having a diminished capacity for empathy. As noted by Dr. Bruce Perry, “The brain of a child will become exactly what it was exposed to." (First Impressions: Exposure to Violence and a Child's Developing Brain) If a young brain is not exposed to empathetic relationships they will not develop empathy. If we make the effort to show our children they are valued, loved, and “seen” they will form healthy attachment and will have a greater ability to empathize with others.
As with any problem we like start from the paradigm of the Attunetion Approach. The Attunetion Approach is all about determining right now, what is most important to us, what is the “Right Thing” we should be paying attention and tuning in to. The next steps are to determine what the “Right Time” and “Right Way” are to achieve our desired outcome
So what is the Right Thing?
The most critical thing we need to be paying attention and tuning in to is our world’s growing empathy deficit.
The time is NOW! If we don’t take action now we can’t expect anything to change. It is time to be deliberate in the way we think about teaching and passing along empathy to future generations. It is time to break this downward spiral. Whether you are having a heart to heart with a partner or your child, having a political debate, or just going about your daily tasks, it is time to be present to how we can be empathetic to those we interact with.
We believe that increasing the capacity for empathy will inherently change the way we interact with each other. When you empathize with another person our capacity for evils is sharply decreased. We must increase public awareness, what empathy is, how it is achieved, expressed and the immeasurable value it adds to human interaction and the greater society.
Our goal is to help each and every human being see and be seen, hear and be heard, feel and be felt. It all starts with being able to see, hear, and feel others. When someone shows you empathy, you feel seen, heard, and valued. Empathy starts with acknowledging those around you and what they are experiencing and feeling. We can all practice empathy in our daily lives, even in tiny ways with big effect. It is our belief that many small steps can make a big impact.
It's time to start tuning in to the right thing, at the right time, in the right way so we can build a more empathic and peaceful world.
If we don’t stop and tune in to the right thing (Declining Empathy) our world will continue to become more violent and inhumane. Right now we have a problem! We don't have to look far to see the cruelties, lack of civility, abuses, disconnect, and injustices plaguing our world. Its time to take the steps to help disconnected families, to put a stop to school bullying, to enlighten greedy and insensitive corporate practices, and to inform policy makers, school officials and educators alike of the importance of understanding and prioritizing the development of social and emotional literacy in our youth. The time for change is now!
We can change our trajectory, we have the power to write the novel of our future. Its up to us to determine if it is going to be a tragedy or a story of triumph, peace, love and human connection. Its no small undertaking, but commitment and dedication from people like you we can join together in making the world a better place, for us and for future generations to come.
We ask you to join us in the empathy revolution! To take an active role in changing the decline in empathy and its effects. We are the hope the world so desperately seeks. We are the agents of change!
Be a part of making a difference in the world. Be a part of creating a more compassionate and connected world.
Sources: "First Impressions: Exposure to Violence and a Child's Developing Brain.mov" Youtube. Youtube, 9 January 2012. Web. 25 February 2014.
The Role of Mental Illness, Trauma, Abuse & Neglect
Let's Start an Empathy Revolution!
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