Our Divided Times Are an Opportunity for Empathy. Really
Jamil Zaki, Robb Willer, Jan Gerrit Voelkel and Luiza Santos: During fractious times, empathy can seem as effective as bringing cotton candy to a gunfight. When the other side is viewed as an existential threat, meeting opponents halfway can feel dangerous — equivalent to betraying one’s side and giving up your ideals. Still, empathy should have a place in our national discourse. As researchers who study empathy and political division, we think some conversations miss how and why empathy could be useful right now. Empathy can seem like a privilege when people’s rights or safety are threatened, and, of course, no one owes empathy to anyone else. But surprising things can happen when people decide to lead with empathy.