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.