Postechian Column: The Power of Empathy
Postechian Column: The Power of Empathy
  • Park Sung-bin
  • 승인 2016.10.12 17:02
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When I have free time such as between classes or before I go to sleep, I usually go on Facebook, Twitter, or read some news on internet. I have fun with these contents, but sometimes I become embarrassed when I see some netizens fighting with each other, or writing hate message, and get hurt. For a long time, I thought that they are wrong and offensive that our society needs to punish them, but, after reading Nonviolent Communication (NVC), I think we need to talk with them and be empathetic.
Many of us are unfamiliar with empathy because we were grown in the environment following and judged by discipline. Studying at school, we were taught to be a good person who follows the instruction of adult and study hard. Also, we were taught to judge between good/right or bad/wrong. Maybe these teaching would be general in Korea because of influence of Confucian culture and to get acceptance for good university. But these lessons make us unconscious of our needs and how to empathize with others because we “should” follow the “right” discipline without any question. As a result, we easily misunderstand others intention and get hurt.
The way to empathize with others is to concentrate our and others’ need. In the NVC, the writer says that all of the negative feeling is caused by the deficiency of our needs, but we usually attribute negative feeling to others’ behavior. If we attribute our negative feeling to others, we usually concentrate on their fault and criticize them, which make the problem unsolvable. By concentrating our needs, we can easily find out the solution of the problem. Also, we can appeal others in heart by saying our needs because they are human being that sharing needs as a human.
I believe empathy may be one of the effective solutions to hate problems. In these days, we often face with hate crime, hate speech, and even terrorism. I think these problems are caused by absent of empathy as I said above because people easily frame opponent to an image they think and blame or even fight. With sincere communication, I believe it will be possible to solve many hate problems from base. Punishment by law or morality would be effective to correct people’s behavior, but it usually makes people follow them by fear. By empathizing with people having different thought, however, we can understand each other and find a solution not depending on fear of punishment.