Many scholars have come out to give empathy its distinct meaning. This is they argue from different perspectives, but primarily with the same objective. The objective to give the correct meaning to empathy is out of the many activities that individuals participate in. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, empathy can be said to refer to the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. The dictionary goes even further to explain that empathy is all about putting oneself in someone else’s shoes. In all cases, empathy is concerned with the wide picture of sympathizing with other individuals who are undergoing difficult moments that limit their happiness. This paper seeks to empathize with employees at University of Oregon who are under the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) labor union of graduate in the same university and relies on the empathy concepts presented by Paul Bloom in The Baby in the Well indicating that people should learn to put themselves in others’ shoes.
Bloom tries to emphasis on the importance of exercising empathy while dealing with different individuals in societies. It is in no doubt that empathy is a strong pillar that guides individuals’ morality from bases of monitoring their affection, emotions, feelings and the manner in which they behave when interrelating with different living organisms in most societies all over the world. To start with, it is of extreme importance to recognize the fact that employees at the University of Oregon are undergoing through a situation that has emerged with a lot of debates. To this regard, the magnitude of their problem is defined by the fact that the university’s administration has failed to honor their grievances. Among those grievances include increased pay rise of 5.5% salary from the $1,335.99 that they are paid. Most importantly, they want the school to be paying them while during their parental and medical leave.
Bloom argues that empathy entails one being in a position to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from him or her. In this case, one should avoid instances of thinking that the plight of others does not entirely concern him or her, hence lacking interest in empathizing and sympathizing with them. Individuals should water down their differences and move to champion the rights of others who are undergoing through difficult situations. This reasoning can be directed towards the university’s administration. Their current ground not to honor the grievances of the employees in the university fails terribly to comply with what Bloom regard as the main basis for empathy. One can confidently argue that the administration feels that this is not a problem to them as it does concern them in any way. This is for the reason that they are comfortable with their salaries and the allowances that they receive from the duties that they participate in within the university. As a result, they have chosen to turn deaf ears to the grievances of employees by holding to the current regulation. In that case, the employees should continue earning the salaries that they are already receiving and should not dream of having paid parental and medical leave. For this reason, one can view them as self-centered and guided by the reasoning that others are always wrong while they themselves think that they ought to be always right.
Bloom comes to an agreement that empathy is exercised when people choose not to question the closeness that exists between the empathizing individuals and the affected one. While one tends to think from a point that, the affected individuals do not relate to them in any way; then the concept of empathy is greatly affected. People should stop empathizing with others simply because they are their friends, relatives, or their partners. On the contrary, they should accommodate others not because they relate with them but on the bases of the matter at hand arguing out of facts and virtually putting them in the same situation. In this regard, one is unlikely to see others as wrong doers but instead he or she will seek to investigate further on the matter at hand and ask him this question. Would I have reacted in the same way if I was in the same situation? This way, one will be in a position to make one of the most effective decisions and not putting much emphasis on how he is entirely connected to the affected party. When viewing the administration in the University of Oregon from a point that they were uncomfortable with the remuneration and allowances given to them by the university, they could have resorted into collective bargaining just like the GTFF has chosen to do. It is therefore a high time that the administration lays common ground with the striking employees and addresses their grievances. Even if the university will not be in a position to meet all the grievances at the same time, it can address some and promise to cater for others in the coming months or maybe implement them in phases.
There are several parties in the university that have greatly met the requirement of empathy as put down by Bloom. That calls for instinctive mirroring by taking another’s perspective and having a feeling of uneasiness when another individual is suffering. These examples include the Undergrads consisting of the ASUO and the Student Labor Action Board. Both have been involved in an unflinching effort towards the support of these employees strike by writing open letters in support of the GTFF. In the letters, both parties have expressed a lot of empathy with the GTFF. This is especially when they opt to personally contact the Interim President Mr. Scott Coltrane to discuss how the matter would be addressed.
Another group that has expressed a lot of concern regarding the striking employees at the University of Oregon is the trade Unions. In addition to writing open letters in support of the GTFF, union such as SEIU; the union of UO classified staff and United Academics, and the faculty union has constantly empathized with the employees by sharing excerpts of collective bargaining agreement to show that part-time employees of both groups can receive a form of paid leave. While doing so, all these parties shunned their differences; they also did away with instances of questioning how they are tied with the striking employees, and chose to fight for what they think is right for the employees in form of collective bargaining.
Empathy is free from bullying, cruelty, and dishonesty and instead, it forms the bases for affective relation championed through emotional understanding of other people’s plights. According to Bloom, empathy enables individuals to come to the ground with the exact meaning of humanity. Empathy is the key driver of human progress through humanity concept. There is that feeling an average human being will feel towards minority groups in our communities such as the oppressed, the deceased, and the beggars found along the streets. In order to offer support to such individuals, it calls for one to possess a lot of empathy.
Generally, not all people will posses what it have to assist a beggar in the street or a suffering individual. However, an average being that is aware of the concept humanity will sympathize and empathize with the plights of such an individual to offer what it takes to improve on the beggar’s current condition. I would not want to come to a conclusion that, being against strategies that are aimed at improving the current condition of other employees in Oregon is being cruel and dishonest. However, when one fails to support the idea that employees be paid when they are on a medical leave makes me think that, those who are against this strategy are totally against the concept of humanity. One thing the administration lacks to understand is that, one would not have chosen to be on a medical leave. He or she became a subject of the same because he was suffering from some ailments.
Empathy, however, is narrow-minded and innumerate. It has in some cases contributed to situations where the empathizer finds himself in difficult situations while trying to help suffering individuals. As evident from the case of employees in the University of Oregon, there are some empathizing groups that have to suffer out of their empathy when the strike takes place. This is particularly the students and the teachers. Classes will have to be canceled so that the school faculties can have time to modify the finals. Final exams also need to be changed, there has also to be increased hours of part-time faculty. As the Senate argues, if this will happen, then the administration will be diluting and degrading the academic excellence in Oregon University.
In conclusion, it has become evident that empathy is all about putting oneself into another’s shoes. It is all about being in a position to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us; having positive emotion and behaviors to others plight. Empathy also requires that it will not be exercised on grounds of how people are close to each other or how they are interrelated. Most importantly, empathy should be built on bases of championing humanity. Lastly, while empathizing individuals should deflect from being narrow-minded in instances that they can end up suffering from their empathizing ability.