HAS THE WORLD LOST IT’S EMPATHY?
Posted by Catherine Morgan on January 26, 2007
HAS THE WORLD LOST IT’S EMPATHY? — by Catherine Morgan
We all see the news, and feel badly about the wars, the starving, the homeless, the poor, and all the other sad things we are seeing on television. On a smaller scale, we all know people with hardships, going through divorce, struggling with health issues, having financial problems, and many other difficulties affecting our families and neighbors.
When we hear all these stories, we feel great sympathy and sadness. But, I think what we don’t do, is feel empathy. To feel empathy, you have to be able to put yourself in that other person’s shoes, and feel what they must be going through. True compassion comes from a place of empathy, not sympathy. In fact, most people don’t want our sympathy, and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. What I am saying is that people don’t want us to feel sorry for them, they want us to have compassion and empathy for them.
picture by © smrafiq
I’m pointing this difference out because, we need to see that without empathy our sympathy is just a judgement, and being judgemental is never helpful. When we can “truly” empathize with the hardships of our neighbors, our families, and others in our lives, we are then in a position of compassion and kindness towards them. Even if we are not in a position to alleviate the struggle of the person we are empathizing with, we will be conveying compassion towards them and not pity. While your pity is a judgement, your compassion is a kindness, and kindness is what we all need in our lives.
I would challenge you to look at your own life, and see where you are sympathizing without empathizing. Then allow yourself to feel the feelings. I’m not saying that this is an easy thing to do. Empathy, is most definitely the harder of the two feelings. But, when you can push yourself past sympathy alone, you are a better person, a better friend, a better neighbor, and so on, and so on.
On a larger scale, if the world can find it’s empathy, it won’t be in danger of losing it’s humanity.
picture by © ehirschenberger