Empathy In A Mean World #59

“In my view, the best of humanity is in our exercise of empathy and compassion. It’s when we challenge ourselves to walk in the shoes of someone whose pain or plight might seem so different than yours that it’s almost incomprehensible.” Sarah McBride

True empathy requires that you step outside your own emotions to view things entirely from the perspective of the other person.” Anonymous

In Heartbreaking Moment Perspective #33 I wrote about how the sight of homelessness affects me. A few days ago I had another experience with the sight of homelessness. One of my Facebook friends shared a small portion of a video documentary about Skid Row in Los Angeles, California, watching that video broke my heart. This video literally brought tears to my eyes and it made me realize how much empathy I have for all people, especially those who are less fortunate than I am. I have seen dozens of documentaries on Skid Row, but this one really made me emotional for several days after watching it. Just as I did after seeing the homeless man that I wrote about in perspective #33 I began to question why is it that I am blessed with a nice home, and a comfortable bed to rest my head on at night, but there are so many others who aren’t blessed in the same way. I wonder if I am too empathetic.

I look at the sight of homelessness and I wish that there was something I could do to provide all people with a decent roof over their heads so that there wouldn’t be a need for people to be living in tent cities or simply laying on the street. I realize that some of the people who are living homeless are living that way because of choices they’ve made that ultimately changed their way of life, but even in those cases it still bothers me deeply to see anyone who is living on the street and doesn’t even have a clean bathroom to use. At the time that this video documentary was made there were over 2,000 people living on Skid Row with only a small number of portable toilets that the city government had placed in various areas for all of those people to use. That’s unbelievable to me, I really can not even imagine what it’s like living like that. As the young woman was walking down the street there were people shouting angrily at her and her camera person and I honestly didn’t really understand that. I thought maybe its embarrassment of how they are living, but I’m not sure. After posting perspective #33 I had a conversation with my mother about the many reasons why some homeless people make the choice to live on the street like mentally illness or worrying about being taken advantage of while in shelters or other facilities and I thought what an extremely difficult life it must be. Is it selfish of me to have empathy for homeless people and others who are less fortunate than me, but at the same time be grateful and thankful that hasn’t been God’s plan for my life thus far?

In this world we live in unfortunately there is a down side to having empathy for people who are less fortunate than yourself. I recently saw a news story about a couple who were driving in their city and stopped to help a couple who appeared to be in need, well that wasn’t the case, those people who appeared to be in need of some kindness had malicious intentions and ended up killing a pastor’s wife who empathized with them and only wanted to share some genuine compassion and kindness. That was a heartbreaking story to see as well. It made me think of myself, because I am that person who is quick to empathize with someone who appears to be less fortunate than I am. I probably get that from my mother because she is the same way. Whenever I see someone who appears to not have had a bath or shower in several days and is carrying what seems to be all their worldly possessions I quickly feel sorrowful. We all pass by those people who are carrying handmade signs that say “will work for food” or something similar. The empathizer in me is always quick to have sympathy for those people and want to do something for them, give money, food, anything to make their lives better or take their troubles away for a moment. Sadly we are living in times where my second thought to myself is always, “I wonder if they are legitimately in need?” It’s awfully disheartening realizing that this world has become a place where it’s necessary to second guess having empathy for someone, because being a kind, compassionate, loving empathizer can get you killed.

Who ever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered. Proverbs 21:13ESV

That’s just my perspective!💜

12 thoughts on “Empathy In A Mean World #59

  1. geekydaddydave January 14, 2019 / 12:33 pm

    I enjoyed reading your perspective. The world is a crazy place and at times it is easy to lose faith in humanity. Just gotta keep your head up and remember the good people out number the bad. The bad just get more publicity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zena T. January 14, 2019 / 2:16 pm

      Thanks for the reminder, with all the negative that’s happening in the world I needed to be reminded that the good outweighs the bad. Thank you so much for taking a moment to look at life from my perspective. I really appreciate your comment.💜

      Like

  2. Doris Macsherry January 14, 2019 / 11:59 pm

    Zena, what a thoughtful examination of empathy you have written. I enjoyed reading your plentifully examples and thoughts throughout. I admire the work you’ve undertaken. When you’re writing, you’re thinking, you’re figuring out things, you’re learning a lot about life, you’re learning to make decisions! I am proud of you and for you. 🙏💝💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zena T. January 15, 2019 / 5:11 pm

      Mrs. Macsherry, thank you so much for your very kind comment, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blog posts. My mom speaks of you very often, we hope that you are doing well.💜

      Like

  3. comfygirlwithcurls January 15, 2019 / 3:14 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective! Empathy is one of those things that takes many forms, and you’re right that often people don’t have the best intentions. And it’s unfortunate that those people ruin it for those genuinely in need.

    I always try to remind myself that everyone has a story. Even those malicious people. It doesn’t excuse why they do what they do, but there’s a reason why they do it. Whether struggles with mental illness, situational factors, or something else.

    Like

    • Zena T. January 15, 2019 / 5:17 pm

      Thank you for taking a moment to read my blog. You are absolutely right, I definitely agree that there is always a reason why people do the things that they do.💜

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OlenaRosanne January 15, 2019 / 8:53 pm

    I completely understand your perspective. It’s hard because I also think I can empathize almost too much for others and because of that I can stress myself out. Way too much over things I can’t change, which sparks my depression & anxiety. I thank empathizing with other shows we have a heart, and are not selfish. At the same time we have to remember the world we live in. We have to learn to protect ourselves from the many out there that take advantage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zena T. January 15, 2019 / 9:05 pm

      OlenaRosanne, thank you for taking a moment to read my blog. I am learning to try and not let things get to me too much, especially parts of life I can’t control. I completely agree having a lot of empathy is a sign of an unselfish, good hearted person. In this world we live in it can be very difficult being that type of person. I really appreciate your comment.💜

      Like

  5. Leshelle, host of MRTV January 16, 2019 / 6:13 am

    Empathy starts with being slow to judge and quicker to love. Not enough people understand or consider they are a serious medical condition, a loss of a spouse, or even a paycheck away from skidrow themselves. That’s why it’s important to be mindful of what others may experience, grateful for all we have & will to share what we’ve been blessed with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zena T. January 16, 2019 / 7:32 pm

      Leshelle, I totally agree with you when you say it’s important to be mindful of what others may be experiencing and be grateful for our own lives & blessings. Thanks for taking a moment to read my blog.💜

      Like

  6. Heather January 17, 2019 / 8:16 pm

    I think we must do what we feel is right regardless of what others might do to us. If we are taken advantage of or hurt because we are extending God’s love than that is simply an ugly consequence of this fallen world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zena T. January 18, 2019 / 8:47 pm

      Heather, I completely understand your philosophy. I think about like this; I try to do the things that I feel God is leading me to do and trust that he will take care of me in every situation. I guess I am like the Maya Angelou quote that I used in this post, I have empathy but unfortunately in this mean world we’re living in I don’t always have the courage to express my empathy for people in all situations. Thank you for taking a moment to read my blog, I sincerely appreciate it.💜

      Like

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