Wednesday, March 29, 2017 56 Comments
PTSD Trigger Warning
Not my problem,
not my business?
© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Walking a Mile Series – Part II
“There, but for the grace of God, go I”
What kind of world do YOU want?
As I began in Part I of this article, our society seems to be rapidly moving to a state where it is empathy-averse. This article is my attempt at trying to change that sad reality in some small fashion by telling my personal story.
The power of true stories
Sometimes hearing the stories of people you know, even a little, makes a greater impact than any urging to speak out, step up, and make a difference ever could. So I have written a three-part article sharing two personal experiences, several years past now, the first of which I shared in Part I.
My second experience is more disturbing, yet perhaps more important to my quest to foster empathy in those who seem to be more disposed to offer sympathy. Not to post a spoiler, but the end of the story, Part III returns to a more upbeat tone that so many commented that they appreciated about Part I.
However, anyone who has never experienced needing help and not being able to get it has probably never thought about what a lack of empathy means in the life of someone they know. This part of the article gives everybody just a little taste.
Everybody wins – or loses
Science is unconflicted in their assertions that community is important to physical and mental health – both to those who give and to those who receive support — as well as about the dangers of remaining apart on either side of the equation.
I want to repeat another bit of text from Part I:
Sympathy is not the same as Empathy
Sympathy is “feeling sorry for” a person in a particular situation. It is a feeling that allows us to be grateful that we are not the ones going through the experience personally.
But it also fosters a pull to allow ourselves to sit back and do nothing to ease the burden for another.
Empathy is “putting ourselves in the shoes of another,” allowing us to imagine what we would find helpful and encouraging, and perhaps to step up to extend support – if only a little bit, and maybe more than that.
Sympathy is sitting on the sidelines;
empathy is getting in the game.
And now for the disclosure of some of the details of my more recent experience – even though it is now several years behind me.
As you read, I want you to keep in mind that, as disturbing as my experience certainly was, it pales in comparison to what many of our neighbors may shortly be facing unless enough of us step up and sing out.