With all this stuff going on in the world right now, be it horrible mass shootings, the tragic murder of a British politican, fearmongering, and yes, cyberbullying (I mention that as we await what Richard Armitage has to say on that subject today), I find myself thinking of empathy. That leads me to the ‘philosophy of empathicalism’, the fictional philosphical theory used in the 1957 movie Funny Face with Audrey Hepurn and Fred Astaire. Here are two clips of the movie that I put together in one video, explaining the theory:
These clips and sending up empathy make me laugh! They also show me that only empathy (and ‘thoughts and prayers and sympathy’) isn’t enough. We need the right words and actions to back it up in all situations in life! Empathy means trying to understand the other and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, just like Atticus Finch says to his daughter Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.”
Empathy is a wonderful thing but it shouldn’t stop there. From empathy grows discussion and then hopefully positive action and change. This goes for the aftermath of the recent tragedies we have witnessed as well as for anything yet to come on this Cybersmile “Stop Cyberbullying Day” that Richard Armitage has subscribed to.
What I hope for after whatever message Richard Armitage sends about cyberbullying is that it sparks healthy, critical discussion but that it does not turn to vitriol and trolling (so brilliantly explained by Servetus in her recent post). I expect his message to be empathicalist (yay! I’ve connected Richard Armitage to Audrey Hepbrun!) and whatever happens afterwards will range from extreme adoration to the extremely critical, all valid reactions. However, being critical does not equal being hateful or bullying and empathy does not equal wordless acceptance.
In my view, empathy is only the beginning and I believe we need to build on that. I think Dick Avery (Fred Astaire) in Funny Face may have understood that: empathy alone is not enough… Let the (constructive) games begin!