Love and Empathy Towards Others, by Julia Sheridan
Diversity. It is a very well-known term but not always a well-practiced one. Although cheaper, more convenient ways to travel and the internet are making the world a smaller place, we still remain very divided. I was adopted from South Korea by parents of Irish descent and have 2 older brothers, also adopted from South Korea. My oldest brother is part South Korean-part African, but on the exterior, he appears to be African American. My other brother has physical qualities of a South Korean but has a mental disability. So, I think I am pretty well versed in diversity. My family, basically a variety pack, has always practiced rituals of accepting those who are different than us with an open mind and open heart. Unfortunately, not everybody has that mindset. I believe if people accepted and understood individual differences, whether it be cultural, racial, or religious, and adapted to these differences rather than dismiss them, we could have significant growth on an individual and global scale.
So, what exactly are the benefits of showing acceptance and empathy towards those who have different cultural, racial or religious backgrounds? There are many, but to name a few...
We Become SmarterImagine a group of people in the workplace, a number of different individuals from different countries, religions, etc. We are able to gain new perspectives and be more innovative because we can draw from everyone’s experiences. We tend to fear what we don’t know, but if we listen and gain information about the unknown, we are able to use it as a tool for knowledge.
You Open Yourself to New Opportunities
Once we break down the barriers that differences can cause, we open ourselves to new opportunities. This can be in regards to relationships, work prospects, or traveling to name a few.
Almost two years ago, I started dating an Israeli. If I had limited myself to only dating men who are South Korean, I would have missed out on the opportunity to visit his beautiful homeland of Israel and enjoy his intelligent and creative perspective on the world.
Living in a multicultural society allows you to see the world through someone else’s eyes. This gives you a new outlook on a number of things from beliefs to lifestyles to cooking. When we take the brave step out of our comfort zone we experience growth.
Steps to Become More Open-Minded and Empathize Towards Others:
Get Rid of the "Them vs Us" Mentality
When we see individuals who are racially or culturally different we tend to fall into a “them vs. us” mentality. We acknowledge that they are different but put up a wall out of fear, which may result in a feeling of loss of power. What we should be doing is empowering each other by uniting as one.
By traveling, I don’t mean going to Mexico and staying at an all-inclusive resort. While this may be nice and relaxing, when you travel as a means of personal growth you will need to step out of your norm and actually see the country you are visiting. Communicate with the locals, take a tour of local wildlife, taste the traditional food. There is no better way to celebrate cultural differences by experiencing it first hand. If you have the capability to go out and see the world, I definitely recommend doing so.
As someone who loves a good book, reading can absolutely open one’s mind to individual differences. For example, I read an autobiography about a woman who was diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a form of brain inflammation that is often deadly. After reading this book I not only gained knowledge about this disease but also saw the experience from her perspective. So, grab your Kindle and start reading!
We all have our own beliefs, morals, and ways of going about life. Being open to diversity and empathizing towards others does not mean that we should all be duplicates of one another, thinking in the same manner. After all, differences are what we’re trying to celebrate, right? We can do so by simply listening to one another. Listen to new ideas and stories and grow from them in the process.
After reading this article, I hope you are able to grasp why tolerance and empathy towards others are so important. Not just for ourselves, but for the world that we all live in.