During dark days of worsening refugee crises and increasing populism, can we still imagine reaching a state of "xenophilia"...overcoming our "homophily", i.e. the love of that which is like us, and reaching the love of that which is different?
Indeed, if we're ever going to care enough about conflict, genocide, poverty, hunger etc. enough to act on them properly, then we need to try much harder to avoid conflict with people we might not yet fully understand.
Authoritative lists of supposed global role models provoke approval and controversy in equal measure, but also raise the more important question: who is honouring the vastly greater number of non-celebrity role models among our human family of perhaps 7.8 billion alive today?
For me the purpose of life is to know other people…is to discover what life is. Who inhabits the world? What is it to be human? What can I give to the world which it doesn’t have…a gift for tolerating my presence in this world..…and unless I know the people, I can’t know what it does not have - Theodore Zeldin
Imagining seeing how everybody else lives, just for one day. Life In A Day was a historic global experiment to create a user-generated feature film shot in a single day, July 24 2010.
If the past is replayed too fast, life seems futile, and humanity resembles water flowing from a tap, straight down the drain. A film of history for today needs to be in slow motion, showing every person who ever lived as a star, though dimly visible in a night sky, a history still unexplored - Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity
A call to action. Time to explore these unexplored histories together.
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Imagining not allowing our "projections" to hold us back, as argued in this thoughtful piece? The idea that we are often very wrong in the assumptions we make about what other people are thinking and feeling strikes a chord. Is there a word for "false empathy" - i.e. for trying to put ourself into the other's shoes, but coming to completely wrong conclusions? Maybe we'd benefit from "cognitive reframing".
So often we seem to impute to others far worse feelings and motives than we subsequently learn were really there, and often isn't the truth that the other person was focused on his/her own problems and, far than condemning us, was probably not thinking about us at all? Even if/when they were, what harm does it really do us?
Can we imagine how others are feeling at any given time?
We Feel Fine tried to do this, by harvesting "human feelings" from a large number of blogs. Every few minutes, the system searched the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it found such a phrase, it recorded the full sentence, up to the period, and identified the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.).As blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author could often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written.