Ever wondered what it’s like to see life through someone else’s eyes? We go through life as individuals, and whilst we might try to empathise with the people we meet in our lives, we can never truly see outside of the confines of our own identity. Of course, our identity changes as we develop, and that change gives us some ability to imagine how others are feeling. In particular, we believe it empowers us to imagine what those younger than us must feel. But just how true is that?

…to think
of other people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys…

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol told us that Christmas was a time for the more fortunate in society to empathise with those below them, not to recognise the financial distinction but see them as fellow human beings. But such recognition can only be superficial. When we look through the eyes of another, we put ourselves in their shoes, as the saying goes. But we cannot hope to look through their eyes. Indeed, can we even imagine looking through eyes that are not our own? Just try to imagine seeing the world with eyes that were not your own; seeing for the first time the different hues and tones, different depth perception, an entirely different focus. Then extrapolate. New experiences, new thought processes, new emotions, new social background, new language, new religion.

As someone bound within the confines of rationality, I find it especially hard to empathise with those more influenced by emotions. When my dog died, my mind offered me a period of grief as it went through its processes. <> Kinda brief, huh? That isn’t to say I’m emotionless, nor to claim that I am incapable of irrationality. I’m always irrational to a rational degree. As an individual I know how hard it is then to empathise with another human being. That one extreme difference only hides a raft of other minor changes which make viewing life through another’s eyes almost impossible. What hope, then, does society have?