Elections for 2014 have come and gone for New Zealand. It was a slightly better turnout than last year, with a 2% increase. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s about 90,000 people. This is a start. Checking my Facebook and Twitter feeds this morning told me a lot of people are displeased with the results, to say the least.
Most people, when voting, think about what matters to them, and what will affect them most positively. This is understandable: we want to create the best possible lives for ourselves. But in doing so, are we creating a worse life for other people in our country?
Nigel Latta’s first doco in his TV1 series this year looked at poverty in New Zealand. It was a superb exploration into the various factors that influence personal wealth. It took a look at the lives of New Zealanders at the wealthy top, the working poor, and the drastic difference between the two. The saddest part of it was knowing the gap between the haves and the have-nots is NOT getting better.
So what’s empathy got to do with all of this? Empathy is being able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and imagine what life might be like for them. Usually, we’re encouraged to think about those who have less than us, but I reckon that it’s useful to think about those with more as well.
If we can understand each other, then perhaps we can befriend each other without judgment. If we can befriend each other, we may not be so selfish when it comes to making big decisions.
Let’s not turn a wealth gap into a social rift. We’re all just humans trying to do the best with what we’ve got, but a little bit of empathy could take us a long way.