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What the world needs now is empathy, sweet empathy…

Written by Nicole Bylina-Streets
November 30, 2021

When we take a step back from our harsh judgments and predetermination about the world, we are able to truly take a moment and try to understand what other people are going through. It’s really unfair to deal with our world in absolute terms. ALWAYS. NEVER. ALL. NONE. 

As I get older, I start to see things differently. I experience the world in a new way and start to understand why people in my life have told me the things they have.

“Your kids will need you more as they grow older…”

“Once you turn 40, your hair will start thinning…”

“It’s better to build healthy habits when you are younger…”

“You better start saving for your retirement now..”

We can learn from one another. It’s when the “other” is different from what you know that’s when things get blurry. It doesn’t have to be like that. You know the hit show “The Voice”? Contestants get up and sing their hearts out and the judges press a button if they like what they hear. It is a singing contest after all, so this eliminates the judgement of race, gender, looks, age and any number of predetermination we all naturally have about each other. 

Completing a community writing project in my SNWP class has given me that perspective. What if we were able to meet the true versions of our students before the first day of school? What if we weren’t left to figure things out throughout the school year? What if they really saw us and we really saw them? Can you imagine the power in that? Can you imagine all the standards we would be able to knock out, the growth that could happen, the incredible bonds we would build?

Writing can be hard. A lot of people are resistant to it. I know because one of those people is me. I don’t know why writing makes me uncomfortable, it just does. I’ve never failed any writing class or have had nightmares about red markings on my paper.

My community writing project focused around my parents. I had an incredible childhood. I was well taken care of, which does not mean I had the best of everything, it actually meant I wore a lot of hand me downs. What it means is that I felt loved. I know that my parents came from less than stellar childhoods. I know this from the bits and pieces of memories that my parents actually shared with us. From my point of view, it is easy to judge my mom for not having a positive relationship with my grandma whom I adored. It’s easy to judge my dad for not speaking about his mom, which I was so curious about. Allowing my parents to write about some of their treasured memories of their youth, their names, and sharing stories of priceless artifacts, really opened my eyes to some of their whys. I was able to put aside my own beliefs and really try to experience their emotions and I think I get it now. 

I know why writing is hard for me, it’s because writing shows your soul. When we write we are leaving a tiny bit of our heart on the paper. We are sharing with the reader who we are. I think that is always the lesson I learned from the writing project with my family. It is not easy to be vulnerable. It is much easier to stash emotions away and not share, but it can be unhealthy. We need to be free to share who we are and how we are feeling with one another so that our world can start to truly see each other. We are in a time of US and THEM, when we should try dumping THEM and just be US. 

When you are feeling strife, tuck away your judgments and pick up a pen. Write down how you are feeling and why you think you feel that way. If you are really brave, share it with someone. They might be able to see you in a different way, we might start to care about THEM.