Battle of Opinions

Recently, like many others,  I was watching the coverage and opinions related to hot current topics that have the power and attraction to gather people in public protests. Probably I am not the only one shocked by the tone, wording and rigidity of opinions – whose soundness and validity I do not comment.  At the same time I watched a sociological presentation on empathy and somehow the simultaneity of these two influences made me conclude that we have a chronic lack of empathy.

But why would empathy – that sentimental, fluffy, abstract, and useless something be important?  What has empathy have to do with the street noise, the gravity of issues or even the resolution of such tensions between individuals or groups?

Simply and shortly empathy as social behavior principle is present in practically all cultures for a very long time.  The most concrete expression of empathy is the “golden rule”.  We should remember it since childhood when our parents taught us this rule for good behavior with the others.  And thus empathy should be part of the luggage we carry on through life.

And if empathy is minted in the desired behavior model how come that on a daily basis we come across our easiness as rational, logical and serene adults to forget this indispensable component of living together?  For which psychological or sociological reasons differences in opinions are transformed into war-like barricades launched against the “others” and filled with heathen epithets?

It is probable that under the information siege of mass media we indulge ourselves to choose between extremes and we do not allocate time to know more details since all angles seem to be covered by commentators.  It is easier to choose between black and white as the shades of grey are more complicated.  Nevertheless once we have chosen the “opinion team” wouldn’t it be useful, socially acceptable and rational to remember and apply the golden rule?  And thus express our opinions without butchering the opposite opinions?  Who knows? Maybe, just maybe we learn something new and valuable if we allow empathy to exist?

For me empathy is no longer sentimental, abstract and unrealistic; it has become rational, concrete and useful.