Empathy and Sympathy: Combinatory attributes needed to serve in a social entrepreneurship domain

Today, many are inspired to serve in the health and social entrepreneurship sector such as the Global Health Corps. They do so due to various triggers and reasons. They convince themselves they need to serve because of reasons really known to themselves. They decide to go down that road because it is a calling, a necessity, a good thing to do, to explore various scenarios, or for personal gain. The possible reasons are quite a few too many if listed.

Logically, all one really needs is the correct and required skillset to serve in the health and social entrepreneurship domain. What are they trying to do at the end of their perceived endeavour? Provide solutions and do their job, some might say. However, the thing that might make one think and question their moral and ethical psychology is the question, does one need sympathy, empathic concern, empathy and compassion to execute their work objectives and goals diligently in this type of sector? I have thought this through and I think empathy and compassion should be one of the important attributes one poses. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an obsession, but it should be there floating within your core.

I have come to comprehend that when you are dealing with issues and working in a job or fellowship that concerns the wellbeing of a person or life itself, one has to care in a certain way.  For example, some individuals apply for the Global Health Corps fellowship for reasons that might not even be related to its vision and mission. Some think about what this opportunity can do for their future careers, how it can propel them in moving up in the world due to the affiliations and contacts that the corps has, educational purposes, somewhat lenient vocational purposes or voyage and vacation gains. Maybe they apply to prove a point to family, friends and themselves.There are many others reasons, all coming down to one thing: personal gain.

One might argue that this should not be a problem when lives are being saved, ideas are being brought up and implementations are being made at the end of the day. My counter argument is: although lives are being saved and good things are being done, how does one make progression and continuity after they are done with their fellowship escapade? If they return to their old comfortable life, what does this do for continuity? For all I know, the portion of your service would be reset and the counting dial retunes back to zero. So what would you have done then? Well, not much. Don’t misinterpret what I’m trying to put across- I’m not saying you can’t live a comfortable life and do the things that you enjoy doing and feel guilty spending on the things that you can afford and require, I’m only trying to justify my opinion.

I strongly think that sympathy and empathy are a combinatory factor in  serving in a leadership and health domain because the two are usually responsible for one’s passion and energy to embark on a journey in order to do something about the problem, continue to do so and make it a main focus in their life’s work.

Sympathy is important because it makes one realise and acknowledge the challenges and hardships of a person or particular group of people and puts them in a situation where they feel obligated to do something about it however best you can, through a donation, charity work, a long term fellowship leading to a long term career serving humanity and trying to reduce their hardships. Adding empathy, which puts one in a situation that enables them relate with an individual who is going through hardships they greatly relate to  because they have experienced and endured something similar.

With sympathy, empathy, compassion and others alike, one will attach them to the work they do and really understand the importance of why their work needs to be successful and it also makes them and others appreciate their efforts and service to a cause that will make life more hospitable for one, two and many people living hard and trying lives.

Combination of sympathy and empathy, plus the interest in serving, plus the skillset one possess and their willingness to help in the war against social injustice and healthcare inequity, indeed does make a great and robust social entrepreneur, which I know all the fellows in my GHC 2013 class are.