Ever watched a movie or a series and found yourself having empathy towards the villain or the bad character in this movie to the extent that you became a big fan of his actions and behavior?
Several weeks ago, I was watching a series. In this series, the main actor was embodying the character of a villain or in simple words, he was doing the evil role in this series. The story started with him killing a cop in a brutal way and in the next few episodes he killed six other cops until in the last Episode the police were able to find him and shoot him dead.
What is your opinion based on what I just told you? Do you feel empathy towards this killer? Or do you feel happy that he was shot dead by the police and you will say that he deserved it?
Now, before you think about it or mention your opinion, I want to mention something that I forgot to tell you. This main evil character who killed the 7 cops was a cop himself. In fact, he was a very successful policeman with an expected bright future. He was living a stable successful life, married and having a beautiful daughter until one day everything changed. Seven corrupted cops from his colleagues approached him and asked him to join them and work in selling illegal things, and when he said no, they wanted to teach him a lesson so they entered his home during his absence and slaughtered his wife and daughter.
After this incident, he changed forever. He looked alive only from the outside. He was a body without a soul and he used to remember in each second the scene of his wife and daughter in their blood, so he decided that he will never rest until he takes revenge from the 7 policemen who did this to his family and that’s why he killed them. Not because he was a serial killer but only because he was seeking revenge.
What do you think now? Do you still feel happy that he was shot dead at the end of the series? And if you said ”YES”, then I want you to imagine this situation which happened to him happening to you and tell me how would you feel and react? The feeling of losing your whole life in just a few seconds because you said ”NO” and you did not want to do anything illegal.
If you are like most people, then most probably you felt empathy towards him after knowing what he passed through and putting yourself in his shoes. And that’s what I would like to talk about today. Empathy and its importance in our lives.
We as human beings are not machines. We need empathy. And Empathy means the ability to understand and share the feeling of another. We need to feel that the people around us empathize with us at work, at home and at anyplace no matter how tough or strong we seem to be. Not only this, but we also need to show empathy towards others and to respect their hurdles and their struggles. And when this happens, our attitude and actions towards others around us will change. Empathy helps you see the big picture and put everything in context.
When you know the motive of someone and why he is doing what he is doing you are able to rationalize his actions and behavior and see the big picture and that’s what the movie director is doing. The Movie director makes you zoom on the main character’s life. he puts you in his shoes to make you understand which pressure he is under and why he is acting this way including a glimpse from his past.
So the next time you want to judge or criticize a friend, a family member, a colleague at work or an employee you are supervising because he is doing some actions that you do not understand or because he is not performing well or because he is angry with you, ask yourself these questions:
1- Do I know the motive of this person or what really drives him to take his actions? In other words, do I really know the reason why he is doing what he is doing?
2- Do I know his background and where he came from or what he passed through?
3- Do I know how he feels in the meantime?
We are emotional creatures. We take actions based on emotions and then later justify with logic. So, do not ever underestimate the value of asking these questions to yourself and know more about the other person before just going and judging him or her.