Mahea Attempts to Think Deeply: A Touch of Empathy


Courtesy of American Press Institute

Being able to understand how to empathize with a person can lead to more positive outcomes on campus

Mahealani Deenik, Staff Reporter

Empathy, defined by the dictionary, means “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person.” Now, this is not an unfamiliar concept to the human race as it is a part of human nature, but is it practiced effectively?

Looking at empathy through a more technical perspective, APS fellow Ying-Yi Hong states “Despite all these neurobiological capabilities enabling us to empathize with others, we still see cases in which individuals choose to harm others, for example during intergroup conflicts or wars.” Even though this concept of mutual understanding and sharing of feelings is seemingly easy to grasp, the practice of empathy in real life seems to be poorly executed considering the current state of our social and political climate.

In light of the events that revolve around the controversial construction plan of the thirty-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, the stark presence of political and social divisions between a portion of the Native Hawaiian community and the state government has become a topic of palpable controversy. Political Science Professor and Kamehameha Schools teacher Umi Perkins says “The truth is that conflict resolution is hard and slow-going. On the part of the facilitator of negotiation—you have to be looking at areas of commonalities.”

Targeting the issues on campus where empathy may not be uniform to the student body, students should have the ability to understand that their differences in beliefs shouldn’t prohibit their ability to be compassionate and kind to each other. Kamehameha Student Teiana Gonsalves says, “Empathy can help us recognize that yes, we have a right to our own opinion, but at the same time we need to consider other’s (opinions) because that’s the only way we can make progress if we discuss and debate.”

In every debate or conflict, there are always multiple ways of thinking and different lines of reasoning. Practicing empathy can serve as a stepping stone to resolve the said conflict, mend broken relationships that are necessary for social unity and resolution, and most importantly, find common ground. It is not expected that we agree with everyone. We are all entitled to our own opinion but understanding and listening to different perspectives that aren’t our own could eventually cultivate intellectual growth and lead us on a coalition that pursues a common goal.

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