Empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.‘“ In our world today, Empathy is a positive force that unites people and promotes peace when people choose to employ it. It never really serves as a divisive force or one that is detrimental to the chemistry ofa group ofpeople. Rather. problems usually arise when people choose not to be empathetic or happen to lack empathy altogether Understanding those who you interact with, be it peers or fellow human beings in general, results in harmony This inherent, “sofrwired” capacity for empathy, mentioned in Rilkin’s video, that all human beings possess exists, but it is up to us to harness it.
When a group of people has something in common, be it nationality, religion or blood ties, this similarity allows for empathy between the members of the group and consequently a more coherent and more stable social unit. In this dilemma, an 80-year-old couple is being evicted from their home of many years because they ﬁnd themselves unable to pay the rent.
When the decision between helping them and doing nothing arises, the solution is by no means clear. There are two obvious courses of action as mentioned before: Attempt to persuade the manager of the building to allow more time to pay the rent. or stand idly by as the man and woman are brutally removed from their only dwelling. In this situation, it is the empathy that I, the main character have, which allows me to identify with the couple.
I know how they feel because of my experience with knowing how fragile my own ﬁnancial situation is. According to the story, I have to make accommodations (eating one meal a day) in order to get by. In addition, my landlady is a very understanding person. Without these two factors playing a part in my life, I could very easily end up like the couple being evicted. This understanding allows me to empathize with the couple and 1 am naturally inclined to help them.
The manager of their building, on the other hand has no empathy. Similar to how Ritkin said in his video (4:39) that there is no empathy in heaven because ofa lack of mortality there. the manager has no empathy for the couple because he isﬁnancially immortal. The manager cannot identify with the meager cash ﬂow that the old man and lady have coming their way and therefore does not care about the feelings or wellebeing of the couple. Not only will they not have a home. but the couple is also losing a sentimental aspect oftheir life: the home in which their entire life took place. People who lack empathy are not necessarily fundamentally bad people, but rather their eyes aren’t open to the possibility of using empathy for good. It should be the task ofeveryone to convince others of using empathy, tolerance and understanding.
In this situation, I would attempt to speak with the manager directly. The protesting mobs of people are doing nothing to fix the situation. The best outcome would be that the manager could postpone payment of the rent to give the couple more time, Realistically, though, the manager would probably not waver in his decision to evict them. Reality is not always pretty. Plus. the eviction has already progressed to the removal of furniture. To have to move everything back into the apartment would not be ideal for the moving crew. The point is, when a situation has already escalated to this point, it is difficult to turn back. Tuming someone to become empathetic is no easy task. It takes time.