Empathy Over Sympathy

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Our intern, Heather, takes on the Dirty Water Dare and shares her personal reason behind doing it. Check it out!

I recently watched a video on the difference between empathy and sympathy. As the narrator, Brené Brown, points out, “Empathy fuels connection; sympathy drives disconnection.”

Empathy is feeling with people, sympathy is feeling bad for them. Empathy is a difference-maker. Sympathy is not.

It’s easy to feel sympathy for people in Africa who lack access to clean drinking water. But, as Ms. Brown points out, sympathy merely drives disconnection. It draws a divide between “us” and “them,” and provides no common link by which to draw a connection.

Feeling empathy for our friends in Africa is much harder. The Dirty Water Dare is our attempt to fuel a connection between the members of the Blood:Water family—in the U.S., Kenya, Canada, Ethiopia, Australia, Rwanda, Europe, Zambia, Asia and Uganda. In the name of creating this connection rather than driving disconnection, I drank some gross water on behalf of someone who has to drink water that is actually dirty every day, and then I donated $20 so that one person can have clean water access.

I can’t in good conscience say that I’ve now been in the shoes of our friends in Africa. I can’t say that because I drank some weird-smelling-looking-tasting water, I know what it’s like to drink water every day that makes me sick. But what I can say is that the empathetic perspective I gained from doing the Dirty Water Dare drove me to act rather than just feel.

I dare you to do the Dirty Water Dare, and let it move you past sympathy and into empathy.

Heather Warfield - Marketing Intern
Heather Warfield - Marketing Intern