In today's world, it is hard to slow down and carefully consider situations—or people—as a whole. Most individuals never take the time to consider other's points of view, simply because they don't think they have the time to do so. Most people believe that their lives or their agendas are more important that anything anyone else is feeling or anything anyone else needs in life. Not seeing other's perspectives is a problem apparent in our nation's politics as well as in interpersonal relationships, and this problem must be addressed to increase compassion, first among individuals, and then in our nation as a whole.
This month, an abortion bill was passed in various U.S. states that made it illegal for women to get an abortion, unless the abortion was necessary to protect the woman's health. There were no clauses that permitted abortion in situations where the woman was raped. Part of the law included a section that stated the number of deaths caused by genocide over the past century and then compared it to the number of deaths caused by abortions. The law, and this particular section, sparked much backlash in American communities.
Firstly, whether one believes abortion is or is not morally correct, it is not fair to compare women who have aborted children to ruthless dictators such as Hitler or Stalin who have caused the deaths of millions. Realizing this naturally comes with realizing that the situation of the woman is much more complicated than what it is at surface level. There is much more gray area than there is black or white.
For example, people who choose to deprive women of their right to abortion not only strip the female of that ability, but they also strip the woman of her dignity and the respect she deserves. A politician sitting at his desk has no clue what it is like to feel completely trapped. He does not know what it is like to find out he is pregnant and to know that there is no way he can raise a child, due to financial or emotional circumstances. Or, he does not know what it is like to have suffered sexual abuse and to be left with something he never asked for but is now responsible for.
Of course, there are exceptions to those people. There are people who do try to understand other's positions and use that mindset to guide the way they interact with the world. The problem, it seems to me, is that those people are the exception and not the rule.
The fact of the matter is that we don't have to know what it is like to be those women. We don't have to have undergone exactly what they did to accommodate their needs. Rather, we have to realize that we don't know. We will never understand, and that's okay. The problem occurs when people never understand that they will never understand.
The reality of our nation and the problem of being empathetic is much more complex than abortion, but abortion is a good example in which our inability to be empathetic is manifested. America is and always has been a place of diversity, both ethnic, economic, and much more. We must understand that people come from all walks of life and that that affects the way everyone views and interacts with the world. These differences should be accounted for not only in our nation's policy, but also on a smaller, interpersonal level every day.
For example, the mindset that we will never understand certain things should guide our relationships with others. It is important to recognize that we can never look at someone and understand their whole life story, unless we have an intimate relationship with that person. What is important to recognize is that some people are living with trauma, or battling mental health, or do not have a good home life. It is not fair to judge a person's behavior when, like mothers who have gotten abortions, they are simply trying their best to make right with themselves and in the world.
Of course, we should always try to understand. Having the mindset that we will never understand will only enable us to put aside our judgments and look at the entire situation of a person. Only when we fully look at what a person has experienced, and how that has shaped the person's decisions and actions, will we ever be able to fully understand the situation of that person.
Unfortunately, this is one thing that some people will never understand.