Holiday Hero: John Marshall Roberts and Rediscovering Empathy
What’s wrong with the world today?
If you had to sum it up in one or two words, you might say dishonesty, greed, apathy, or corruption.
If you were to ask author and renegade social scientist John Marshall Roberts, the answer would be simple: a lack of empathy.
Roberts has spent the better part of the last decade examining psychology, behavioral studies, and how they intersect with business. What he’s found is that the human race is suffering from a deeply embedded sense of cynicism which is preventing us from taking even a tiny sliver of time to understand one another.
The result has been a complete breakdown of communication between humans at all levels. Couples sit across from each other at the dinner table without talking, and countries declare war on each other without a second thought about the equally valid cultures they might be destorying in the process.
The solution? According to Roberts, it’s time to recognize our cynicism for what it is – undigested pain – and start dissolving it so that we can effectively, collectively begin moving forward again.
In a recent interview, Roberts said that “If we take that blame away, and throw in the word empathy, which leads to insight, then insight can lead to common vision, which can lead to collaboration, which can lead to actual problem solving.”
Roberts recently delivered a passionate speech at TEDx in New Zealand, titled “The Global Urgency of Everyday Empathy” in which he argued that the era of empathy is now upon us, connecting this often ‘misunderappreciated’ psychological skill to the global climate crisis and to the sustainability movement at large.
Listen to Roberts’ TEDx speech:
This philosophy flies in the face of our natural inclination to judge, categorize, and dismiss people because they are different, difficult, or less desirable than we might expect them to be.
This holiday season, the world is fraught with what seem like insurmountable problems. What we’ve been doing clearly isn’t working, but it’s hard to know what to do instead.
Think about putting some of Robert’s suggestions about witholding judgement and practicing empathy into play in your own life. You might be surprised at how quickly things seem to take on a more positive, productive, and even profitable hue.
Image Credit: johnmarshallroberts.com