With all that's been in the news lately, one can easily think that humans are just the Earth's waste. And while that probably applies to some of us, there are plenty of awesome people as well. At least that is what the subreddit r/HumansAreMetal is trying to prove. With over 539,000 members, the community is sharing random acts of kindness and heroism in hopes of restoring our hope in humanity. From honoring firefighters who lost their lives during 9/11 to car crash survivors showing the lifesaving effects of seatbelts, it is doing one heck of a job, too. Continue scrolling and check out some of the most popular posts on the subreddit.
These people couldn't have done all these wonderful things if it wasn't for their ability to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of others. Empathy is crucial for behaving compassionately—it allows us to experience another person's point of view, rather than just our own, and enables us to do good not because we have to but because we want to. Because we know it's what has to be done.
We, humans, begin to show signs of empathy in infancy and the trait develops steadily through childhood and adolescence. Yes, most of us are likely to feel greater empathy for people like ourselves and may feel less empathy for those outside our family, community, or race but it also allows us to bridge these gaps.
First responders, humanitarian aid workers, doctors, therapists, journalists, and others whose work involves opening themselves up to people's pain tend to be especially empathic. However, they need to watch out because all the heartbreak of those they help or whose stories they record can accumulate and when this "emotional residue" gets big enough, they may shut down, burn out, and become less willing or able to give of themselves.