Opinion: The Importance of Empathy


Ainsley Helling

Seniors Megan Foster and Isabella Saylor show empathy as they converse.

Ainsley Helling, Staff Writer and Editor

In the hallways of RHS, students converse with one another on a daily basis. However, what is often missing from many of these conversations is a vital element in building strong social connections– empathy.

“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another. . .” is the definition of empathy according to merriam-webster.com. Whether you consider yourself an understanding person or do not give the time of day to thinking about others, we could all use a little more empathy. 

I believe empathy is one of the most necessary skills for a society to live harmoniously. Without the ability to take other’s thoughts and feelings into consideration, we cannot make decisions that have one’s best interests at heart.

Empathy is a skill that unifies people through thoughtful communication. Intently listening to what one has to say and attempting to see things from his or her point of view is the first step in forming a compassionate bond. This skill is especially useful in academic situations like Socratic seminars and meetings when it is easy to judge others’ opinions and viewpoints without knowing the full story.

Mrs. Angie Raby, school counselor and Ross Hope Squad Advisor stated, “If we could speak more openly about our feelings and people could be more empathetic, it would allow people to communicate differently.”

Communicating with empathy not only empowers the person sharing their feelings but the listener as well. Putting someone else’s feelings before your own can create compassion and understanding. 

Julia Ziepfel, senior and Hope Squad member, stated, “Empathy helps to reduce the amount of selfishness in society and, in general, makes people kinder and better to be around.”

When it comes to politics, specifically, empathy is rarely found. Biases and personal beliefs cloud the vision of many individuals which makes it difficult to empathize with those of a differing opinion. This often leads to animosity and, in America’s case, a divided nation.

Raby also sees the importance of empathy and the role it plays in politics.

“. . . no matter what side of politics you’re on you just want to feel heard. People are being divisive over something that is the same. If we lived in a world where you could only talk about an emotion underneath something then people would be able to relate more,” said Raby.

If you do not do so already, implement empathy into your daily life. A more empathetic conversation with a classmate, a family member, or a stranger may open your eyes to a new perspective and result in a greater understanding of humanity.