Fear, sadness and anger reached record levels globally – and that was before the pandemic. (Gallup)
There’s also been an alarming rise in tribalism—on both sides of the political spectrum. When people feel ignored by those in power, they retreat to their own camps and develop a deep mistrust and fear of ‘the other.’
This ‘Us Versus Them’ dynamic is most acute in the world of politics and had led to a hyperpolarization that is dangerous and debilitating.
If we are to strengthen our sense of being part of a global, interconnected human race, where what binds us together is stronger than what separates us, we must learn to respect and appreciate people who are different from us.
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau boldly asserts the awesome possibilities that come from empathy, which is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. By viewing the world through another’s eyes, we can truly bond with and care for those who hold different viewpoints, believe in other religions, come from distant lands, live in different neighborhoods, work in unfamiliar jobs, or have different skin colors. If we all had more empathy, we’d each find that we have a lot more in common than we think, and the snowballing impact of that realization would be profound.
Today we face a disturbing empathy gap. Studies show that we’re 40% less empathetic than we were in the 70s and 80s. Millennials rank inward facing values like happiness and passion over collective-focused values marked by Boomers like family and duty. We lack a sense of unity and community and a duty to help our neighbor.
Lightbeam believes that to move society in a positive direction, generating more empathy is the first step:
“There are three ways of converting people to a cause: by threat of force, by intellectual argument, and by inspiration.” – Psychologist John M Roberts
Each Lightbeam story brings us on a journey with a different ‘Lightbeamer’, someone who is living with purpose and conviction. Our goal is to inspire, to spark empathy, and motivate us all to #BeaBeamer.
Together we can close the empathy gap, one story at a time.