Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It’s a character trait that I generally would say I have. So when I was invited to participate in the Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) hosted at Watermark, I thought my empathy might shine.
I overestimated myself.
COPE simulates one month in the life of a person facing poverty, providing insight into the lives of individuals and families in our community. Your role in the simulation may be running the convenience store, or you might be a single mom working two jobs to support three kids. Your experience is simultaneously individualistic and connected to the community of participants.
Clearly, no one believes that a simulation gives anyone the full feeling of living in poverty! But the experience did provide at least three ways I can better empathize with those in poverty.