Human Nature
Emma Rainwater

Empathy is a funny word. A dictionary definition describes it as 'understanding and entering into another's feelings', but there is something missing there. Empathy is more than understanding someone's feelings. It is being one with them. It is more than entering into their feelings. Entering you can feel like a stranger, someone who doesn't belong. Empathy is to feel as another person feels; it is a way of expressing love, hope, all for someone you might not even know. Empathy is written within human nature, deeper than any other human flaw. It is often said that hope is the greatest gift to human kind, but without something deeper how could we go on to love as every great teacher has told us to? Without something deeper how could we even believe in hope at all?

A week ago at my school two boys in my class were killed in a car accident. The news seemed like some kind of cruel joke at first, we were on our way home from a music festival where everyone had won prizes and awards. The mood was lighthearted and everyone was laughing until the teacher announced the accident. I don't think anyone believed that it had happened at all, people were just sitting there in shock. All those who knew them must have seen a million pictures flitting across their inner eyes, laughing, joking around; just living. I didn't know them personally. One of the boys had been in some of my classes a few years earlier, but I didn't know him now. Even for me though, someone who didn't know them at all, their faces were running through my mind. The few things I knew about them, had seen. Around me everyone was in shock, some people were calling their parents, some just sitting there. The boy sitting in the seat beside me kept up his steady stream of "Oh my god." When we stopped for lunch I saw some of my friends from the other buses, just people I knew from various places. They were sobbing. It surprised me somehow. I hadn't thought that anyone I knew would be affected so severely, the thought just hadn't occurred to me. The boys were in a completely different social circle and I hadn't known any of my friends were part of that. Just seeing them sobbing made me start thinking. It made me wonder why I wasn't crying; why when my teacher said "two sophomore boys have been killed in a tragic accident" I let out a breath of relief when the names were no one I knew. Even as I was happy my friends were all fine I felt pangs of guilt, and as I watched people sobbing it only got worse.

As I sat in homeroom the next morning among my silent, sobbing classmates I felt that horrible sinking feeling again, as though I was doing something wrong. Throughout the day it kept hitting me without warning, until I felt the tears start to water in my eyes as I watched them. It was hard to see people in pain. It was hurting me to see all these people I know and care about crying for their loss, grieving for the hope lost in the death of those two boys. With that accident thought hope was still there, it was just dulled in the face of tragedy. There was a third boy in the car, the boy who needed help the most and was in the hospital, who people were praying and hoping for. When I think about that boy who was there at the death of two of his closest friends, the boy who was too hurt to even go to their funerals, that is when my heart aches the most. There is the hope that he will learn from this experience, but without strong support, strong love nothing good can come of it. Hope is deep, but feeling the pain of another, taking on their pain and carrying it for them is something inherent in human nature. The desire to take care of each other forever.

In looking back on this experience years from now the only thing I'll regret is not knowing those two boys enough to grieve. As relieved as I was to find that it wasn't my friends it hurt just as much to see others in pain. Looking over all the speeches, the lessons of the greatest teachers of all the message is clear. Love one another; let the empathy inherent inside everyone flow freely without the hindrance of greed for material possessions. Feeling and loving your neighbors, friends, and even complete strangers is something rare in this world. Forgetting the power struggle, the mindless political games just for a moment to see your so called enemy as just another person is crucial to being alive. It is the most powerful thing of all, despite all someone might win through complex debates and bargains, to simply love someone. To care about them no matter who they are or how well you know them. To see others in pain and feel this desire to comfort them. To live as free people and freely give all that we can to help those in need, and in pain. Forever.