“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.” – Barack Obama
Have you ever wondered about the situation of other people? It is necessary to think about our feelings and actions towards a person in challenging circumstances.
There are many factors that contribute to a healthier, positive, and more sustainable society for the future. To educate the world population and provide tools to encourage individual behaviour to reduce the risk of harmful activity and encourage personal and professional development.
Prevention is where we design strategies to reduce these risks in order to create a healthier and sustainable community for everyone. Being supported in many social and cultural areas should be considered key when studying our communities’ risks. However, in this article I will focus on the importance of protective factors, one of which can be seen as empathy.
Empathy is the ability to perceive and understand the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of others. Recognizing this important ability is the first step to achieving a better and healthier future. We have been making valuable efforts to highlight the priority of strengthening other protective factors in communities, such as family communication, caring, and the level of community support.
For example, many families find it difficult to talk about important topics, such as sexual orientations, religion, or drug use. Not talking about these sensitive topics may be caused by fear of judgment, punishment, or humiliation.
Opening an honest conversation may support the affected person and allow them to explore alternatives to talk about these topics.
When there is no space given to have an open and honest conversation, there may be no reason to talk about personal problems or concerns with family members. This can lead to social isolation which increases the risk of substance use or other risky behaviours. Being unable to put oneself in another’s shoes can be considered as a lack of empathy. But what does that mean?
The lack of empathy is not only present in the described situation, but it may be experienced at any time when we are not able to put ourselves in others’ shoes.
For example, if we see a person struggling in any way, and we simply do nothing but observe, we are part of the problem. If we do not listen to our partner when important topics are being discussed, we are part of the problem.
In relation to drug use prevention, this is a problem for implementing strategies in the communities. This is because the level of support may not be sufficient enough, as necessary information could be missing due to the lack of understanding. For example, if problems or concerns can not be openly expressed, it is difficult to provide the necessary support.
That being said, we want to draw attention to empathy and strengthen protective factors.
These could be a positive environment in the community that creates or enhances support services in the community.
Activities could be established in the community to expand prevention strategies and thus be a support for the community.
That is why it is important to target an objective that focuses on teaching empathy in communities and corresponds to the development of a supportive society. Once implemented, actions, activities, habits, and behaviors will help address any situation in support of a person, whatever their problem is.
We cannot stand the mere thought of the responsibility of being empathetic. Our goal has to be to demonstrate our unconditional support for the healthy lives of our family members, peers, and fellow human beings.
1 International Standards on Drug Use Prevention. (2018). Retrieved 16 May 2021, from https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/prevention/prevention-standards.html
2 López, M. Filippetti, V. Richaud, María. (2014). Empathy: from Automatic Perception to Controlled Processes. Retrieved from http://www.scielo.org.co/pdf/apl/v32n1/v32n1a04.pdf Consulted on: 22 May 2021
3 Obama Holds a Town Hall in Istanbul (2009, april 7). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040701463.html Consulted on: 22 May 2021