Editorial June 15 2018

American author and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson made this powerful observation about empathy.

“Humans aren't as good as we should be in our capacity to empathize with feelings and thoughts of others, be they humans or other animals on Earth,” he said.

“So maybe part of our formal education should be training in empathy.

“Imagine how different the world would be if, in fact, that were 'reading, writing, arithmetic, empathy’.”

Imagine that?

Imagine if we learned the ability to understand and share the feelings of another human being at school like we did algebra or science?

Imagine if we placed as much importance on someone’s emotional intelligence as we did someone’s athletic ability? 

What a much different world it would be.

Often, as is human nature, we are quick to judge without taking the time to fully understand or relate to someone’s personal circumstance.

For Bodhi Dreyfus-Ballesi, his world moves a little differently than most.

Bodhi’s love and passion for escalators is a natural to him as most love chocolate. He can ride them for hours at a time.

For Bodhi, his life literally involves ups and downs.

Now 23 years old, Bodhi has enjoyed riding the escalators in Wollongong and beyond for almost two decades. 

Many would have seen Bodhi – who has a severe intellectual disability – in his vertical travels over the years but not have understood the delight that it meant to him.

Bodhi’s mother, Dr Shoshana Dreyfus,  says she and her husband Mark are eternally grateful to the inventor of escalators.

“(Bodhi) needs sensory stimulation and so I think the movement, the noise and the vibration of escalators really appeal to him – and he likes to also stomp his feet on them and go down backwards,” she told the Illawarra Mercury’s Lisa Wachsmuth. 

“If he doesn’t have that stimulation, especially when he was younger, he could resort to challenging behaviour. But he can spend hours happily entertained on escalators.”

Until you take a moment to walk in someone’s shoes, to try and understand their perspective, you never really see the true beauty and wonderment of life.

Humans have an incredible capacity for empathy. Imagine if we gravitated to it more naturally than we often sometimes do.

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