What The World Needs is Empathy.

I try avoiding writing personally about myself, but I have realized that a lot of who I am today is because of what I’ve seen and experienced. When I was a boy I lived in the Basque country for a period of about two years. It was a big culture shock to my system, but when you are a child it is easier to adapt to an entirely different culture. There is a reason why studies prove that it is easier to learn as a child so I benefitted in part because of this fact. I was able to learn and adapt to the culture. A culture that is both similar and different to the American one I am accustomed to. From what I remember the bounds of a community and family are still much stronger than the one’s I experienced in my homeland. It is something that I’ve learned to appreciate because elements such as those are so hard to build and maintain but so easy to lose. Especially now in our society of easy gratification, and simulation.

Living there I was close to two boys, and when it came time for me to leave the country I had one last sleepover with each of them. I was young at the time, but the adults must have understood it was probably the last time I would ever see either of them. The first night I stayed over at this boy’s Ben’s house. I don’t remember much, but I do know I had a lot of fun hanging out. It was the second night with my other friend Ivan that I remember the most. He was skinny and looked very weak my mother would tell me later that he was born prematurely. He had a PlayStation which we all loved to play with, and since he was one of the few who had one at the time we often loved to visit him at his house. On this last sleepover, we didn’t spend much time playing on the console even though I wanted to. Instead, I spent a very long time coloring pictures with him. We were coloring some egg shaped characters which to this day I don’t know where he got the design, but we colored them together. He drew them and I colored. I could see in his face that this was something he wanted to share with me. He wanted to share this moment in time with me because of this fact I have never forgotten it. He told me he really appreciated this, and thanked me for being a true friend because all too often most would turn him down in doing this activity and would only want to play with the video game console. I was pretty young but it took me back a little to this day it is one of the moments of my life that still resonates with me.

Another similar moment happened to me much later in the 4th grade. I befriended a Chinese boy in my class, and he was really into Pokemon cards. We often spent time together during recess and played cards. Sometimes we would play basketball if the big kids let us, and often they wouldn’t because, to be honest, we were pretty bad at it. It was because he was a weird kid who didn’t really socialize he got picked on a decent amount of time. It’s been so long I have forgotten why he was angry and crying but it was at the end of recess and we were waiting to get in class. He was very upset, and I reached out my arm on his shoulder telling him it was okay now. He immediately lashed out at me and swiped my hand away. Another moment I was taken aback but for different reasons. The teacher later told me she appreciated what I was trying to do, and gave me some words of encouragement.

I may appear strong on the outside, and in my demeanor and it’s not a fake strength I’ve developed to not be consumed by depression of this world. Yet deep down I have a soft heart a heart that is hard to keep hate, and bitterness. Looking back it’s why I couldn’t turn away as I became more educated and saw the pain and suffering of not only those around me but also in the world. It’s why I did try everything I could when I was younger with my limited power, and naivety. I saw injustice, and evil in the world and I couldn’t do anything about the suffering, and the pain. So I thought by understanding the world I could find the answer regardless if it would bring me happiness or not. Thus I pushed, and keep pushing I see education not as an institution, but as a way of life. As long as my heart beats I will never stop searching. I will seek the answers I am looking for until the day I die.

I see now that this was the only path for me. Even if I wasn’t curious my empathy would have driven me here. What these two stories taught me was that only when you can understand something or someone can you heal it. I see now that it is not my knowledge alone that allows me to see the world in a different light, but my abnormal personality that allows me to gain a different perspective. When I was a young teenager I would go on long walks on the weekends because sometimes the simple things can teach you more than any book you can read. Listen and observe the people walking, the architecture and position of the buildings, and the sounds and whistles of the world. We shouldn’t take for granted what is right before us. I exist to love this world. I love living things in this world because sometimes we forget how rare life really is, but also the objects that don’t have heartbeats. We are the world, and the world is us. We are fundamental of the same atoms, and too often we forget that.

Voltaire

Humanity has been facing similar questions over a long period of time. I think that even early civilizations had the same initial questions about life and existence which was stratified with religion. From Zeus to the Holy trinity. Let us get back to Voltaire the French philosopher who recently taught me something very interesting in that even the greatest thinkers in human history struggled with the same questions every human faces(for they are human also if you think about it). Why is there suffering? Is there a plan? Or is it random and meaningless? Why are the institutions which we create to serve and protect us and provide order can be so corrupted. In his time it was the Catholic Church, Kings, and other forms of politics. Ironically it is similar to the very questions we have today about financial bankers, government, lobbyists, and corporations which all lead to corruption in some form or another. Should we be skeptical? Or just live our lives in peace and be ignorant? Is there a balance one can achieve between the two? All questions with no easy answers. Perhaps it is too much to handle and it can easily overwhelm and stretch the mind to capacities beyond our control. For even the greatest mathematical geniuses of any era could not the answer the questions we are striving to answer. One must consider the possibility that there is no answer or just one we have no discovered yet. For we know that gravity exists but we do not know why. Could you image a world where the opposite were true know why but not know how works? Is that even possible?

One must know that the answers we seek today are very similar if not the same as other thinkers before us which one again relates to my belief that we are both Aristotle and Mao. Our species has been trying to grasp the answers of our mind for a long time now. There has been progress but not enough for we have not tapped into the potential of every living creature and being. We are a species of frustration.  It seems sometimes we merely represent the world around us. Universe at a basic level is just comprised of energy, matter, and most importantly collisions. Collisions, conflict and no I am not just talking about war which still exists, but inner conflict of self-image and morality. Most importantly the conflicts of our dreams for one man can dream of world peace but his brother at the same time is dreaming of world power. Taking morality aside, if one of them reaches their dream the other will feel sad, lonely, and rejected. This was a dramatic example but it could be simple as something two guys liking a girl or the thousands of people who apply to college some get rejection while others get accepted. Sometimes it seems survival of the fittest is the only true law of the of human construct.

Yet we as a species have fought against our inner evil dreaming of a utopia where the world would be closer to our ideals than it current exists today. Time and time again thinkers, scientists, and engineers have dreamed and thought of ways to create a better world and yet humanity seems as if it has a long way to go before a better world can be achieved.