If we were to empower our children with two skills for their lifetime, it would be curiosity and empathy. In fact, the great unlocking of curiosity translated into a cascade of prosperity for the nations that precipitated it. Hence we at Desh Apnayen have made it our business to inspire values of curiosity and empathy through the content in our Disha Program.
Humanity’s contentious relationship with curiosity
“Our oldest stories about curiosity are warnings: Adam and Eve and the apple of knowledge, Icarus and the sun, Pandora’s box. Even humanist philosopher Erasmus suggested that curiosity was greed by a different name. For most of Western history, it has been regarded as at best a distraction, at worst a poison, corrosive to the soul and to society.
There’s a reason for this. Curiosity is unruly. It doesn’t like rules, or, at least, it assumes that all rules are provisional, subject to the laceration of a smart question nobody has yet thought to ask. Curiosity is deviant. Pursuing it is liable to bring you into conflict with authority at some point, as everyone from Galileo to Charles Darwin to Steve Jobs could have attested.
A society that believes in progress, innovation, and creativity will cultivate curiosity, recognizing that the inquiring minds of its people constitute its most valuable asset. In course of time, European societies started to see that their future lay with the curious and encouraged probing questions rather than stamping on them. The result was the biggest explosion of new ideas and scientific advances in history.
– Ian Leslie, The Royal Society of Art, London
Empathy is empathy is a skill that strengthens with practice and encourages people to both give and receive it often. By receiving empathy, not only do we understand how good it feels to be heard and accepted, we also come to better understand the strength and courage it takes to be vulnerable and share that need for empathy in the first place.
These are the four attributes of empathy:
- To be able to see the world as others see it—This requires putting your own “stuff” aside to see the situation through your loved one’s eyes.
- To be nonjudgmental—Judgement of another person’s situation discounts the experience and is an attempt to protect ourselves from the pain of the situation.
- To understand another person’s feelings—We have to be in touch with our own feelings in order to understand someone else’s. Again, this requires putting your own “stuff” aside to focus on your loved one.
- To communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings—Rather than saying, “At least you…” or “It could be worse…” try, “I’ve been there, and that really hurts,” or Tell me more about it.”
Imagine a nation of curious and empathetic individuals marching towards progress with awareness, understanding, collaboration and self-motivation. This is the future Desh Apnayen is working on. Join us, won’t you?