A collective lack of empathy and critical thinking is tearing our country at the seams. We can and must do better.

Empathy and critical thinking reinforce and strengthen one another. The lack of either undermines the other as well.

Empathy is the ability to recognize the emotions or feelings of another person, even if you don’t fully understand why they’re feeling it and regardless of whether you agree with them. Critical thinking is the ability to “step back” from one’s own thinking and honestly evaluate whether it is sound, rational, and unbiased.

When empathy is missing, other people become an annoyance, a distraction, even a threat or enemy. Their humanity is reduced, from our perspective, and it’s much easier to want to deny them a raise, health care, citizenship, reproductive rights, and the like.

When critical thinking is missing, especially if there’s no empathy, we constantly reinforce our own biases and beliefs and limit ourselves to people, media, and environments that contribute to the reinforcement.

Don’t be that person who lacks empathy or critical thinking or, heaven forbid, both. Practice the cultivation of each. Daily.

It’s the right thing to do. And if that’s not enough motivation, I promise you’ll be much happier and successful as well.