Empathy: From “Me” to “We”

Life today is very “me” centric. We are taught that the key to happiness is to follow our self-interests. Roman Krznaric, cultural thinker and writer on the art of living, says that we are desperately in need of “an antidote”, and he proposes “empathy”.

Empathy is to step into another person’s shoes and to look at things from their point of view. It applies not just to our immediate personal relationships, but also to the wider social circle – including people from different socio-economic backgrounds, religions, and countries.  Empathy is the practice of expanding our circles of “moral concern” to include people who aren’t like us. In this way, “what’s in it for me” can complement “what’s in it for we”. Empathy offers a social glue for mending and transcending many of the polarizing conflicts of our time.

In this powerful 17-minute TED talk at Athens, Krznaric encourages us to create “experiential adventures” and have meaningful conversations with strangers in order to cultivate empathy. He advocates that empathy, just like riding a bike or speaking a language, can be learnt not just in childhood but also throughout our lives.

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