Culturally Empathic

To understand the emotions and experiences of people outside my culture, I must venture out of my circle and comfort zone to actually explore other cultures. If I can’t travel to other countries and continents to experience other cultures, I need only to open a book and read and/or watch a film. But diverse culture is all around me.

Lack of understanding cultures outside people’s own makes it difficult to develop sympathy for people living in other cultures. Without sympathy for other people, then love and curiosity are lost even more in this world. That is why I feel it is essential for people to try to learn about other people, what they value and what they believe in. This doesn’t mean people have to agree with everything other people do (and just because a culture is different from my own surely doesn’t mean their ways are wrong or right). When someone has not lived around people, then there is lack of connection and comprehension of them. That emotional attachment isn’t there. But since teleportation has not yet been invented, people rely on learning of others through social media, books, and film. Social media cannot always be a reliable source of information due to the passive coverage of attacks around the world. People everywhere share dreams, have loved ones, and lives – people in this world are all part of a network. But many people don’t seem to be aware of this and the network’s significance. People in other countries lose their parents, kids, cousins, friends when someone goes on a shooting rampage or sets off a bomb in a public place. These people die too, and never will have the chance to grow up to live the lives they dream, they can no longer read their favorite books, go to the beach, watch movies, have dinners. They love and lose as people do in America and other parts of the world.

Through fiction about characters living in other cultures and friendships with people who are different, I have found empathy for a diverse range of people… The Kite Runner is one example of a story that can provide understanding of what people endure living in war-ridden Afghanistan. Another one that comes to mind is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Wide Sargasso Sea to name a few. And there many more books, and films available that give readers and viewers the opportunity to explore outside of their cultural realm.

              

Reading as much fiction and nonfiction as possible is one way to learn about other cultures and develop understanding of peoples’ experiences – their endeavors, fears, joys…and realizing they are not much different from people living in the United States, despite having diverse beliefs, education, and lifestyles (no, not all Muslims are terrorists, as not all Americans are murderers). Murder is a disease not bias of one culture. Pain and suffering have no boundaries.

Understanding people from other cultures can lead to ethnic intelligence and add more love in this world, while reducing ignorance and hate, and that the things other people lose matter as much as any life in this world: they love, they worry, they laugh, they eat and drink, they’re emotional, have expectations, jobs, humans and animals, friends… Everyone is capable of suffering and loving.

When something such as a mass shooting or a disaster that takes human lives happens in America it is posted all over the news. It is horrible and heart breaking to say the least. The sadness floods across state to state, and even liberals and conservatives, Christians and atheists, people who make the effort to break each other down daily in the news media, come together for at least a short period of time to search for emotional empathy, relief, and for a resolution. Then it is back to hating each other again. However, when similar disasters happen in other countries, to other people, it is not posted in the media in America. People don’t talk about it like they do when mass murder occurs in their home countries. There is a lot of support for the tragedy that has occurred in the U.S these past few weeks, which there should be. But why is there not as much support for the tragedy that happen to the innocent people in Iraq and Turkey recently?

 

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