Empatheatre (see what I did there?)
I recently stumbled upon a fellow blogger’s blog post titled, “What Theatre Can Teach Us.” Of course, I was intrigued. You don’t have to tell me all of the great and wonderful things that theatre can teach us! I can go on and on and on and on. And on. Ask me this question some time and I will gladly talk for awhile.
You can read the blog here. The blogger, named Kelly, goes pretty in depth with regards to how one can learn to empathize through exposure to theatre. She states that there is power in relating to a character on stage, the “discovery of a shared experience.” In situations in which you can’t relate to a character on stage, she quotes, “we can still find something with which we connect, something that may even open our eyes to a new perspective of the world.” WHAM BAM! So true! When exposed to people in our everyday lives, we write people off if they do or say one thing that rubs us the wrong way instead of thinking, “Perhaps they are having an off day and I’m catching them at a bad time.”
Empathy allows us to develop an understanding of other people, even if they have vastly opposing world views than us. With empathy, bridges are formed and relationships created. Why are there so many problems in the world? Because we are not listening to each other! We are trying to spew our own chunks without taking the time to reflect on others’.
Stephen Covey has this amazing quote. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” We have to get our listening game on! We don’t listen nearly as well anymore. And my blogger friend quotes, “But that’s what theatre is for: to practice listening to others and paying attention to what they have to say.”
It’s no secret that we don’t listen anymore due to the constant feed of distractions hitting us. Within the last 20 years, there has been a 40% decrease in empathy! That’s insane! It’s much easier being a nice people than it is being an a-hole, but people are becoming a-holes without even realizing it. We are falling down an a-hole hole. Taking the time to listen allows us to understand one another as human beings instead of as enemies. If we can put our phones down and hear someone out or potentially even listen to another viewpoint before shoving our own down someone’s throat, then I think we can all have cookies. We would all be happy because we would have the capacity to develop empathy and we would all have cookies. And there is no way to go but up from there. Cookies come to those who treat other people with kindness and listen. And who doesn’t like cookies? Look for commonality, folks!
What are your thoughts? Do we need more empathy in this world? Can theatre be a saving grace for empathy? Comment below!