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SunDaily: In other people’s shoes

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Social philosopher Roman Krznaric is convinced that we need to connect more with each other in these hyper-individualized times. “In fact,” he writes, “it’s strange that we live our lives and work so far apart from each other. It’s strange because we as humans are not programmed to be that way at all. In recent years, more and more psychological and neurological research has shown that our ability to empathize is part of the basic hardware of our brain and that only a very small part, about 2%, do not have empathy.

For years it was also assumed in economics that people are individualistic and focus on their own interests. It is a shame not to use our potential and talent for cooperation. “In fact,” Roman Krznaric describes, “it is necessary to meet each other more.”

And then also to see each other at the meeting. Because seeing each other automatically creates more understanding. And from understanding we create a relationship with each other’s life and work. It solves many problems.

“For example, more than half of the employees do not get satisfaction from their work. It’s sad, isn’t it? (…) I think the employees have no connection. They don’t want just one human resources are, but they are seen and valued as people. Of course, empathy is not a panacea, but it can increase employee well-being.

In his book Empathy he continues to think about intervening and connecting with each other based on empathy. “Empathy is actually an ideal that allows us to transform our lives and bring about fundamental social change. Empathy can spark a revolution. Not one of those old-fashioned revolutions based on new laws, institutions, or forms of government, but something much more radical: a revolution in relationships.

Roman Krznaric has founded the Empathy Museum, a traveling exhibition about how you can (again) look around you and especially others with empathy. As with thought Miles in my shoes; stories of refugees and migrants. In this exhibition, you can really walk in someone’s shoes. “This themed exhibition brings together a new collection of audio stories shared by refugees and migrants who have made London their home, from a Syrian dentist to a Nigerian barber.”

Our stories bring us closer to each other. This exhibition may seem like a nice trick, but its scientific background gives reliable results about how we can hear and understand each other’s stories based on empathy.

Perhaps without those first steps in each other’s shoes, compassion is not possible.

– The biggest deficiency that we have in our society and in the world at the moment is a lack of empathy. We desperately need people who can stand in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. —Barack Obama

Ron van Es, mentor, author, podcaster and influencer

This is a column from the series “SunDaily”: short stories about people who inspire others with a Sunday story.

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