Empathy. em·pa·thy [em-puh-thee]
It’s a beautiful word, derived from the suffix -em (meaning “to make into, to put into, to get into”) and -pathy (meaning “suffering”).
What I consider especially beautiful about this word is that, unlike “sympathy” (which translates literally to “with” + “suffering”), “empathy” is more internally focused, and action-oriented. It describes the transposition of the suffering, emotion, feeling, or experience of another person into oneself – and how it manifests itself through ones behavior toward others.
Here at Ashoka, we believe that empathy is central to our ability to imagine (and create) better communities, societies, organizations, companies, and institutions. We believe that empathy is a skill. We believe that empathy is a muscle we all have. And most importantly, we believe that, like all muscles, empathy is strengthened by use and exercise.
To this end, Ashoka Changemakers is launching a global competition titled: Activating Empathy: Transforming Schools to Teach What Matters.